What helps you play in front of people?

Discussion in 'Trumpet Discussion' started by Myshilohmy, Oct 2, 2010.

  1. Myshilohmy

    Myshilohmy Pianissimo User

    Jan 6, 2009
    I have always had a problem with playing in front of other people. I am a decent player, just self-conscious. It isn't just trumpet playing, it's my personality. I think I care too much about what people think of me, like I can't talk on the phone with people nearby who I know are listening in, and I can't stand people looking over my should for almost anything.

    So I don't think it's that I think I suck (although we all have those days) it's just who I am. I've noticed two things that help me play better, when I'm really mad and aggressive and just go for it, and sometimes when I close my eyes. I imagine if I ever have to play by myself in public closing my eyes will help. People say just thinking confidently will help, but that doesn't work for me. What works for you? Also, any tips for me?
  2. chet fan

    chet fan Piano User

    Jul 3, 2009
    75% of people that will listen to you doesnt know enough to spot your mistakes, so do not worry about mistakes. If you make a mistake pretend nothing happen and nobody will notice. If however they see that you are not confident all of them will notice that. It is attitude that is important. Be confident, thats all you need. And always keep in mind that 75% of them are way below your musicianship. Another 20% are on your level but they most probably do not play as well as you do. They understand music but they do not play, so you are superior to them too. Only maybe 5% of people that will listen to you are superior than you ,but they are only 5% -forget about them. Play for those 95% -those are that matter. That is the mind set that you have to accept prior to concert.
  3. rowuk

    rowuk Moderator Staff Member

    Jun 18, 2006
    What helps me is 100% PRE-paration. If I have properly worked out what I am playing - especially including where I breathe, then nothing can really shake me.

    I think the key issue for train wrecks is the breathing being out of sync. If we mark our scores before playing the first notes, we train the most critical thing for wind players - AIR. Most all of the serious players that I have worked with have been able to increase their performance value by turning breathing into a predictable event instead of chance! Steady breathing is also good for your nerves.............
  4. Al Innella

    Al Innella Forte User

    Aug 9, 2007
    Levittown , NY
    What helped me the most? One word, experience ! I used to get nervous when I first started to play ,but the more I performed the easier it got.Besides playing in school ensembles ,I also played in two different groups outside of school,and when I saw I could get paid for something I enjoyed doing,I was hooked. It does take a certain type of personality to get up on stage and be the center of attention . I know two very fine players who put the horn away because they never got over their nervousness.
  5. Markie

    Markie Forte User

    Jan 4, 2009
    Clarksburg, WV
    I have always had a problem with playing in front of other people. I am a decent player, just self-conscious.
    I'm preparing to go to a performance later today and am I excited? A little, but that's natural. I expect I'm going to do a great job. Can I be totally prepared for the performance? No. No one can plan for the unknown and that's possibly what you're afraid of. You can plan all you want, but once you get on stage, its all live and unpredictable. The most you can do is prepare the things you can prepare.
    Make sure you know the music.
    Make sure you have your equipment and it is working (that includes an extra set of clothing).
    Pack early.
    Show up early.
    Set up early.
    Have an energy drink (gatoraid or something similar).
    Play where you're gonna perform before anyone gets there.

    Once you start playing, if you mess up a little, keep going. Why? Because most people are not going to evaluate the totallity of a performance on every little mistake. If that were the case, Maynard would have been a cabby. You do your best and if you have a lack luster day, blow it off and work on the next performance. It just wasn't in the cards for you to have a good day. It happens to everybody and I mean EVERYBODY. If someone says they haven't sucked on stage, they haven't been on stage enough. I've seen Snooky suck, Doc suck, Louis suck, Dizzy suck, and oh yes, I've really sucked a few times. Its just the nature of the beast.
    However, did any off these people curl up in a fetal position and whimper "there's no place like home, there's no place like home" Hell no! We're trumpet players!
    So with that said, you have to suck it up and know for a fact that you'll be alright. Just you asking this question tells me that you care about how you do.
    One last thing, if you have a great performance(which I'd bet money you will), celebrate and be happy! I sure do.
    Oh, and by the way, I've not had a performance where I didn't make a little mistake.
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2010
  6. R.T. Swing

    R.T. Swing Pianissimo User

    Feb 6, 2007
    Something an old teacher once told me stuck and comes to mind, if you make a mistake don't worry, it wont be your last.

    I'm not talking about a lazy approach to preparation, but those mistakes that sometimes occur in spite of preparation.

    Some how the more I prepare the less I worry, the fewer the mistakes.
  7. R.T. Swing

    R.T. Swing Pianissimo User

    Feb 6, 2007
    Also, I know very well what I can and can't play, what I can't play to a high standard has no place in public. People shouldn't have to listen to me being well meaning, they deserve better.
  8. Alex_C

    Alex_C Piano User

    May 30, 2010
    Gilroy, California
    Doing it a lot. Psychologists call this desensitization.

    I was the shyest kid around when I was a kid. I was a pretty shy young adult too. But in my teens I did some telephone surveying, and like most good middle class kids did the door to door thing for Scouts etc.

    I did swap meets and gun shows for many years, and slowly got better at dealing with the public. Then my business involved making deals all the time, plus still did swap meets on the side.

    Then I used to compete in a sport, and you have a lot of people watching you then, esp. when you're winning. Sometimes important people, and sometimes you're on TV.

    It just takes a lot of time. Those teenagers who sing for Church and do solos etc are just very polished because they've done it for years, lots of kids who do that started very young.

    In all cases, never forget the 7 P's. Prior Proper Preparation Prevents Pee-Poor Performance.
  9. Ric232

    Ric232 Pianissimo User

    Apr 30, 2009
    Coastal GA
    Here is my personal experience (as someone who used to have the same problem):

    You can't talk yourself out of being nervous. I don't care how much people tell you that the audience is pulling for you or that they won't hear all of your mistakes. Positive thinking is not going to address the problem. The best you can hope for with positive thinking is that you won't think you're nervous, but just before you get ready to play, your mouth will dry out and then you're screwed. Your body will turn against you and you're royally screwed. The only answer for people like us is getting out there and playing in front of an audience, again and again. Hopefully the first few tries will be reasonably successful or you'll lose what little confidence you had going in. I still get a little nervous but my mouth does not dry out any longer nor do I get the shakes. Those symptoms were absolute killers and created a vicious cycle for me. The hardest part is being able to create enough opportunities for yourself to perform in situations that GRADUALLY put more pressure on you.
  10. stumac

    stumac Fortissimo User

    Oct 19, 2008
    Flinders Vic Australia
    My experience has been the same as Ric, coming back 25 years ago and playing 3rd trumpet in a community concert band, on stage it would take about 4 bars of the first number before I could get the instrument to sound at all, it took me years to have the confidence to even play a written solo in big band. Only in the last few years have I been able to play duets with my friends at music camp happy hour without fear. Next year I intend to play the first section of Louis Armstrong's "Cornet Chop Suey", I have no fear of failing with plenty of preparation in hand.

    I have found the more I play in public, the more confident I become.

    Regards, Stuart ( 72 and improving )

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