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First time playing at a piano competition. Advice anyone? (Read 2397 times)

Offline emmasommerv

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First time playing at a piano competition. Advice anyone?
« on: February 21, 2016, 12:49:32 AM »
I've been playing the piano for about 12 years now, but have quite little experience performing classical music at formal recitals. I've just finished a degree in music, but it was composition based, not performance based, although I did have a final year recital where I played pieces by Rachmaninoff, Debussy, and Prokofiev in a 25 minute recital (all from memory).

I'm planning on doing the LCTL piano performance diploma in June (45-minute recital from memory), so I'm looking to get some more performance experience to prepare me for it. I've entered into a piano competition (I'm from Ireland so I don't think anyone here would know of it..) where I'm going to play the first and third movements of Bach's C minor Partita, Rachmaninoff's Prelude in G-sharp minor, and another piece by an Italian composer, Esposito (the whole thing should last about 15-20 minutes, and I plan to play from memory). I have another month to prepare for it, and I know I'll be able to play them all to a high standard by then, but I'm worried I'll get nervous on the day and mess up. I think a lot of the other adult performers will be quite experienced, so I really want to prepare myself to play well even if my nerves take over a bit. I'm just wondering if anyone here has any advice, or if anyone who's been in a similar situation would like to share their experience?

This is a link to me playing Debussy's 'Jardins sous la pluie' as I was preparing form my recital last year, if anyone is wondering about what standard I'm at-



Offline mjames

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Re: First time playing at a piano competition. Advice anyone?
«Reply #1 on: February 21, 2016, 01:32:44 AM »
Hmm I know how you feel, playing in front of people is tough. Best way to cure it is to play in front of people as much as you can. Try and play in public places, or try to sign up for gigs in restaurants/clubs etc. That's all I can really say.

Oh don't be afraid, be fearless because it's just a recital. With that mindset you will kick butt. :D
Composing/improvising

Chopin's 4th ballade and 3rd sonata.
Scriabin Op. 42 no. 1, 2, and 3.
Bach Partita No.4

Offline andreslr6

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Re: First time playing at a piano competition. Advice anyone?
«Reply #2 on: March 11, 2016, 11:08:23 AM »
hmm, the way I deal with this, specially in competitions, is to just let the random thoughts and nerves of playing in public pass through. Don't force yourself out of those thoughts and nerves, just let them be, let them fade away on their own, realize that they are just reactions of your body and mind, etc. Instead, focus on what you are going to do next, the music. Don't rush, just focus on playing and the nerves will go away. At least that's how it works for me. There's been some cases where I'm actually trembling  and shaking backstage before I hear my name announced. Sometimes I take deep slow breaths and just walk in circles, stay away from people, etc. but the real magic is when I just accept my "nervousness" and overcome it by focusing on the music.

Naturally, you only get better with practice, so, as the commenter above me has already said, try playing in public as much as you can before any event, concert or competition you consider big or important, keeping what I already said in mind. The nerves will probably never go away, but you can learn and practice how to control them and work with them. Hope this helps you!

Offline visitor

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Re: First time playing at a piano competition. Advice anyone?
«Reply #3 on: March 11, 2016, 11:31:41 AM »
You need experience and lots and lots of practice performing. Seek oout opportunities early and often to set up and organize mini then full length recitals ie church at nursing old folks homes hospials at peoples houses etc
coordinate studio classes where you and a group of student all perform for each other. Part of the game is just time at the keyboard in performance env and mindset to get good at controlling anxiety and playing with and through nerves

Offline dcstudio

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Re: First time playing at a piano competition. Advice anyone?
«Reply #4 on: March 12, 2016, 12:09:25 AM »

pre-performance anxiety and performance anxiety are not the same thing.  I stress beforehand sometimes but as soon as I am standing in the wings waiting for my cue there is  nothing but anticipation.   I love to perform though... psyche yourself up instead of psyching yourself out. 

at the competition you can show NO weakness.  Remember that the contest really starts the second you get there.   When you walk on stage--practice the face you will wear.  OOZE confidence from every cell of your body... you are being judged--though not officially--the whole time you are there.  Freak out later.. you will no doubt see some contestants who are beside themselves with nerves--don't be one of them. 

you should be chomping at the bit to get out there.... act like it even if you don't feel it.  You can always go with the beta blockers... IDK if they work, never used them..  If I was I would take something more fun like Xanax...  just trying to lighten the mood. :)


Offline arthurjnewport

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Re: First time playing at a piano competition. Advice anyone?
«Reply #5 on: March 13, 2016, 12:32:40 PM »
pre-performance anxiety and performance anxiety are not the same thing.  I stress beforehand sometimes but as soon as I am standing in the wings waiting for my cue there is  nothing but anticipation.   I love to perform though... psyche yourself up instead of psyching yourself out. 

This. It's all about confidence. Tell yourself you're excited about performing, not worried.

Offline briansaddleback

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Re: First time playing at a piano competition. Advice anyone?
«Reply #6 on: March 13, 2016, 05:07:36 PM »
Just do well. I will be rooting for you.
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Rondo Alla Turca

Offline emmasommerv

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Re: First time playing at a piano competition. Advice anyone?
«Reply #7 on: April 03, 2016, 12:54:33 AM »
Thanks for all your advice, I played better than I expected to, and it ended up being a really eye-opening experience. I played in two competitions on seperate days, and I won the first one, and came 3rd in the second one. I actually ended up being a lot less nervous in the second competition, and was able to get into the music a lot more and focus on giving a good performance, rather than worrying about whether I'd mess up or not. I think I realised that everyone-even people who've been playing at competitions since they were children- were just as nervous as I was, and no one actually cares too much about anyone's performance but their own. I'm looking forward to playing in public more now, and I get to play at a winner's recital tomorrow which will be a great experience, as it will have a completley different feel to it than a competition!

Offline kennedy4

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Re: First time playing at a piano competition. Advice anyone?
«Reply #8 on: April 03, 2016, 01:01:23 PM »
Hi Emma.
I imagine you're talking about the Newpark Music Festival competition.
I was in your category :) (Senior Repertoire)

You did quite an excellent job considering this was one of your first competitions.
If I remember correctly, you did very well in keeping your cool throughout the whole performance.
Well done!

Offline brogers70

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Re: First time playing at a piano competition. Advice anyone?
«Reply #9 on: April 03, 2016, 01:54:19 PM »
.....and no one actually cares too much about anyone's performance but their own.

Yes. It's not piano competing, but I used to do a good bit of public speaking at scientific meetings. When I was just starting out they made me terribly nervous. Then I noticed that when I saw somebody give a genuinely terrible talk, I'd forget about it entirely, and by the time I'd run into the guy at the coffee break I'd already have forgotten that he was the one who gave the bad talk and be completely unaware that he was feeling like he'd totally screwed up. I figure that most people are just worried about their own thing and aren't that interested in thinking ill of you even if everything goes terribly. And it almost never does go terribly. After that, I just stopped worrying and lost a lot of my jitters.

Offline briansaddleback

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Re: First time playing at a piano competition. Advice anyone?
«Reply #10 on: April 03, 2016, 05:48:29 PM »
Actually for some reason I want to make an impression w someone or people. I don't want them to not remember or just doze off or get daydreaming about something else when I play (not that I perform any) so I get anxious for that.  Same w public speaking. I want all eyes glued on me and either applauding of jeering me at the end. No kidding. I want to prove a point and move someone enough to love me or hate me.  Not just ignore or not remember me.

I dislike when at school I play something on the grand and someone girl nearby starts talking louder or start artificially laughing towards her phone and walks away immediately. (This one girl in my guitar class does this all the time when I do something on my guitar near her ) either she is coincidentally for the last half dozen times laughs and or walks off or she wants to say "you playing doesn't merit my attention" I get that feeling from a few insecure people in classes I've taken

That pretend, 'I ignore you. I don't acknowledge you' provocation response.  Must mean I'm doing something right.  Or else they wouldn't market their ignoring to me.
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Rondo Alla Turca

Offline kawai_cs

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Re: First time playing at a piano competition. Advice anyone?
«Reply #11 on: April 03, 2016, 07:39:04 PM »
Or else they wouldn't market their ignoring to me.
I looks like she has some personal interest in you that you maybe ignored and now she is paying you back ;)
Otherwise no one cares to make so much ado for no reason.

Congrats to OP!
Chopin, 10-8 | Chopin, 25-12 | Haydn, HOB XVI:20

Offline briansaddleback

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Re: First time playing at a piano competition. Advice anyone?
«Reply #12 on: April 03, 2016, 08:26:32 PM »
I don't think she has any interest, I think she is just a young college elitist who says if you don't look like one of these tall good looking trendy clothed (emo) guys and you're just an old fat dude then I give you no grounds for moving my head to your direction.  Not that I really really want her to look in my direction but even when I come into the room and say hi to everyone (I'm cool w almost everyone) they all look and say hi how are you back except for her she stares intently in the direction of her older friend (even though the friend stops to say hi to me as well like any normal good natured person will do) she just stares locked in that position as if her neck is padlocked down to not acknowledge my entry not that she needs to but I find it very unnatural and amusing.  Anyways what do I know about girls point of view (I say girl not woman) who knows. I don't know their hang ups.
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Offline kawai_cs

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Re: First time playing at a piano competition. Advice anyone?
«Reply #13 on: April 04, 2016, 12:20:17 AM »
Nah, highly improbable that somebody would make so much effort just to show they donít care. Yeah, it totally makes sense ;)
Normally dcstudio is good at interpreting such various preoccupations, etc. Where is she???
Probably on her US tour already and we didn't get free tickets? ::)
Chopin, 10-8 | Chopin, 25-12 | Haydn, HOB XVI:20

Offline emmasommerv

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Re: First time playing at a piano competition. Advice anyone?
«Reply #14 on: April 04, 2016, 02:01:30 AM »
Hi Emma.
I imagine you're talking about the Newpark Music Festival competition.
I was in your category :) (Senior Repertoire)

You did quite an excellent job considering this was one of your first competitions.
If I remember correctly, you did very well in keeping your cool throughout the whole performance.
Well done!

Hey Brendan(?), yes I am talking about Newpark of course, thanks :)  I really enjoyed your performance, especially the Chopin Etude, and I actually thought out of everyone you seemed to keep your cool the most. I'm sure we'll meet at some competition in the future, well done to you too!

Offline spenstar

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Re: First time playing at a piano competition. Advice anyone?
«Reply #15 on: April 04, 2016, 03:39:17 AM »
The mindset I have in recitals to play well is "I have practiced this material enough that I for sure know what I'm doing. Therefore the people watching me are irrelevant." So then I can focus on just playing well and not being nervous. Because if you're prepared for it, theres no reason to be nervous!

Offline kennedy4

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Re: First time playing at a piano competition. Advice anyone?
«Reply #16 on: April 04, 2016, 10:22:17 PM »
Hey Brendan(?), yes I am talking about Newpark of course, thanks :)  I really enjoyed your performance, especially the Chopin Etude, and I actually thought out of everyone you seemed to keep your cool the most. I'm sure we'll meet at some competition in the future, well done to you too!

Hi Emma,
Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
Well, when you know the pieces like the back of your hand, it's not too difficult :)
Funnily enough, I thought the Chopin was my worst performance :P
And yes, maybe we'll meet at some future competition.

Take care
Brendan