Mike's thread about playing with the big dogs kinda got me thinking. It seems that whenever I play in a "new" environment, I struggle, and mightily. I can play jazz and sound just fine. I can even sit-in with a group sight-reading lead charts and play like I've been jammin' with them forever. I sit in with the local college band and sight read concerts anytiem they need me in a pinch, and play just about any concert-band music flawlessly. Yet it always seems to take me several tries to get church gigs or orchestral gigs down right. Maybe they're "not my style", but I think otherwise. What it seems to me is, I do just fine once I've had time to get into my comfort zone. For instance, I recently had to play a church gig in a small group consisting of a violin, cello, French Horn, clrinet, and myself. I sucked. I felt like giving them their money back, in fact. The whole time they asked me to play under the clarinet and the hall was so 'live" that it sounded like I was screaming no matter how much I held back. I think most of this was just mental, becuase I've done simliar gigs just fine in the past. But this one I totally tanked it. But this last easter I played an easter gig, and with one exception (grabbing the wrong horn for the wrong part --C / Bb....ugh), I pretty much flat out nailed everything. We did three services up to a concert E and I felt rock solid during all three. So what was the difference? My comfort level. When I'm nervouse, my technique just falls apart and I struggle like crazy. But when I'm feeling good, when I'm "in my element", so to speak, I do just fine. Why? How can I teach a lesson and play with such confidence, but when I go to a lesson for myself I play as though I were in utter fear/ What is it that gives us that confidence? Some folks I know seem to have it all the time. How does one capture that confidence and make it a part of their permanent musicianship for all playing opportunities??? Thoughts? ML? How do I tap that jazz player within and bring him out for orchestra and small ensemble or solo gigs?