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Topic: Nervousity  (Read 3841 times)

Offline jono

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Nervousity
on: January 24, 2005, 08:58:15 AM
I drream about becoming a concert pianist, and i love to play the piano. But I always get nervous, even when i just play for my friends, no matter how few they are... Since it takes so much effort to become a concert pianist, i wonder if i have any chance at all to become it, is there a possibility to overcome this fear? I've read some articles on this site, which are helpful, but not enough. Sure I can agree that being a bit nervous might be better for the performance, but in my case my hands get shaky, and sometimes that makes me play the wrong tones...  please try to answer :'( 
Jono
Listening to Debussy is like having a midnight bath in a lukewarm augustlake

Offline zemos

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Re: Nervousity
Reply #1 on: January 24, 2005, 08:15:37 PM
First of all, I'm with you, I also get very nervous perform in front of people, but much less than I used to. I don't know many details about you, why won't you answer me some questions and I'll try to help? here:
How old are you?
How long have you been playing the piano for?
Are you inside sort of an institution of music or do you have a private teacher?
answer me and we'll go on (:
Tom.
Too bad schubert didn't write any piano concertos...

Offline Buffy123

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Re: Nervousity
Reply #2 on: January 24, 2005, 09:26:15 PM
I felt the same way for many years and I talked to a friend of mine who is a pschologist.  She asked me before a competition how do I feel?  I answered, Oh my! I'm so nervous!!  And she told me thats right away the first mistake.  NEVER ADMIT YOU ARE NERVOUS.  Lie if necessary.  So when she asked me if I'm nervous, I replied NO.  And soon, it wasn't a lie anymore.  And I love playing for others.  I still get nervous from time to time----no,   ....   i mean...  I NEVER GET NERVOUS.  ;) Performing is the best part.  You have to love the audience!
Irina

Offline aquariuswb

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Re: Nervousity
Reply #3 on: January 24, 2005, 10:12:55 PM
I become really nervous when I play in front of people, too. Last year I had a bad experience at my recital... I was playing harpsichord, actually (I took a semester of lessons). I was playing a French 17th century suite by Hardel (don't worry, I had never heard of him either), and I practiced a lot, but I really botched a couple parts. I was so nervous, my hands were shaky, my head and neck were shaking, etc., and I was playing in front of mostly just the music professors at my school, which was very intimidating.

Perhaps the biggest thing, though, was that I HATED THE MUSIC!!! My teacher made me learn what he wanted me to learn (I didn't complain or anything, because what the hell do I know about harpsichord?), and I had only been playing for about 3 months (although I've played piano all my life). I could not connect to the music AT ALL. It did nothing for me, and had no emotional impact on me whatsoever. Because of this, I had nothing to rely on when the nervousness set in. I have vowed that I will never perform another piece that I don't like. It's stupid, it really is. I ended up with actually some nice remarks from the judges, but they all also noted that I was extremely nervous and botched a couple parts; but they also praised my musicianship and said they were impressed with how far I had come in only 3 months. So once it was over, it wasn't so bad. But boy! During it I felt like I was in hell. Oh, and I almost forgot! Just before it was my turn to perform, my girlfriend walked in -- and I had asked her not to come! One of the worst musical experiences I've ever had, for sure.

So my advice: only play pieces you fall in love with! If you don't love it, how can you rely on the music and your connection with it to overcome the nerves?
Favorite pianists include Pollini, Casadesus, Mendl (from the Vienna Piano Trio), Hungerford, Gilels, Argerich, Iturbi, Horowitz, Kempff, and I suppose Barenboim (gotta love the CSO). Too many others.

Offline Nina_too

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Re: Nervousity
Reply #4 on: January 24, 2005, 11:44:10 PM
I am no expert at managing being nervous, but here are a few tips:

1.  Accept that you *will* be nervous.  It's normal, and natural.  Try to maintain a third-party observation:  "Oh, yeah, there's that feeling."  I think often people think that if they are nervous it's just bad, end of story.  I know of no professional musician who doesn't get nervous before stepping out on stage, particularly pianists who perform solo.

2.  The pounding heart, shaking hands, etc., is part of the "fight of flight" response that's hard-wired into us as a response to stress.  Your body is amping up in case you have to either run away from that mastadon or fight off that monkey. (?)  You can release some of the adrenaline by just moving around, vigorously.  Jog in place, rotate your arms around, touch your toes a couple times, whatever it takes.  It will burn off your adrenaline and is particularly good for shaking or cold hands, in my experience.

3.  You can minimize the nervousness bordering on panic attacks by simply performing more often.  It doesn't have to be a big whoop-do-doo on stage.  Take every opportunity to perform in front of people.  Ask your friends to let you play for them.  Play pianos in stores, at church, in hotel lobbies, etc.  Volunteer to play for a nursing home. 

Gotta go, hope some of these help!

Offline jono

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Re: Nervousity
Reply #5 on: January 25, 2005, 08:44:06 AM
Thanks for all the advices! Very helpful  :-*  To Zemos: I am seventeen, and i've been playing more or less for three years, but it's the last halfayear i've started thinking about a piano career for real. I dont have a teacher, but I did have one three years ago, but I stopped after a halfayear, since he wasn't god at learn me things. I think I have a clue of what you are going to say, but this nervousness on stage does not only move piano playing, also speaking to a public is a problem for me...  But I really want to overcome this problem in order to be able to make concerts and performances, which is what I really want to.   But probably i will overcome it sometime, if I really do something about it, I am optimistic. But I need a bit of advice (which I've got, thank you)
Jono
Listening to Debussy is like having a midnight bath in a lukewarm augustlake

Offline pianowelsh

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Re: Nervousity
Reply #6 on: January 25, 2005, 04:17:50 PM
It dosent get easier!  :-\ I am final year college student and I still get nervous! The difficulty is finding your way of dealing with it. I know some pianists who run around and cry on peoples shoulders and get unspeakably nervous and then walk on and give the most controlled performances you can believe. Others sit there in silence or hide in the bathroom with the score. They give equally good performances! The biggest thing is being prepared and knowing you can do it not 80% of the time but every time! 'An amateur practices till he gets it right a professional practices it until it can't go wrong!' It's not quite as straightforward as that but a huge factor in nerves is the question 'can i do it?'  - so deal with the question in the practice room. As it has been said one way is by inviting your friends to listen to you casually (we  - group of three of us at coll often have an informal piano class in a practice room just to get the glitches out where we can laugh about it - NO stopping is allowed so it forces us to keep going even if we have to improvise to the end!!) :D Good Luck with your performances and remember if youve worked hard don't destroy it by worrying be confident and just enjoy communicating with people!

Offline jason2711

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Re: Nervousity
Reply #7 on: January 25, 2005, 09:58:12 PM
Generally, the more times you play in public, the less nervous you get... from my experience i think this is probably true but i still have shaky moments.  For example last year, i was 16 and had to do a concerto solo for the first time on the bassoon with my county youth orchestra.  The concerto i knew inside out and was playing from memory, but beforehand i kept getting asked questions such as 'are you nervous?' to which i always responded 'no, i'm fine', which was actually the truth at the time.  However, when i got up and played, the adrenaline got to my head and I rushed it like crazy.  Eventually... it got too fast that i couldn't articulate all the notes properly and was (in my opinion) ruined.  Everyone still loved it apparently, so the moral is.. no matter how bad you think its going... it might not really be so.  In a competition i was playing from memory, was quite nervous and had a few memory slip-ups, forcing myself to play wrong chords or something like that, which shook me.  Wasn't so bad though... I won ;D

Offline Daniel_piano

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Re: Nervousity
Reply #8 on: January 25, 2005, 10:59:54 PM
Dear Jono,
have a look at Amazon.com
You will find that there are several books on fighting performace fear and audience nervousness
There are books on how to deal with a "crowd" and still feel calm and secure

How do you know what books are serious and what are not?
You should look for information about the author and look at book excerpts

Authors that are able to help you are caring, loving and wonderful people, they don't talk like they feel superior to you and they had usually your same problems
They don't talk like you have a problem and they are there to "heal" you and they enver suggest bad tips such as not looking at the audience of pretengin they are not there
Their work is based on creating a bond with your audience, feel their respect and their caring and be positive about their judices not on pretenting they're non existing

You will surely find what you're looking for

Good luck
Daniel 
"Sometimes I lie awake at night and ask "Why me?" Then a voice answers "Nothing personal, your name just happened to come up.""

Offline Bartolomeo

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Re: Nervousity
Reply #9 on: January 26, 2005, 11:26:40 PM
I think everybody solves this in their own way.

In my case in particular I don't play at any high-falutin' places, and the churches and other places I play are happy to have someone with any sort of training at all.  They're willing to overlook the occasional mistakes, gaffes, and uninspired performances, and they still pay the bill and ask me to come back.  I'm not in this to be any sort of great concert pianist, because that requires a set of tradeoffs I am unwilling to make.  I play as well as I can and choose venues where they're happy to have me.

There's a balance: you don't want your playing to get sloppy, but you don't want to get so hung up on perfection that you get your head all messed up.  I take care of the balance this way: perfection is something I seek when I practice.  When I'm playing for people, I'm there to connect with them and with the event, and at that point, there's not much I can do about the quality of my playing, other than to be sure I'm not letting my mind wander.  So I listen, and look at the people I'm playing for, and try to just stay in the moment.

Much of the music I play is chosen by others, and sometimes I have to play it on short notice, so if I'm playing something that I don't like and haven't been given enough time to practice, I just do the best I can and if I drop out the alto voice halfway through then so be it.

Everyone has their method.

If you're just starting out the most important thing is to play for a non-judgemental audience until you're accustomed to playing.  Sometimes that's hard to find.  I think the music education process as it exists now focuses overmuch on competition.  You can pursue excellence without constantly comparing yourself to your peers.  Playing in front of people, there are constant reminders that there are people listening.  Cough, door close, paper rustling, whispers, giggles.  You have to get used to that, and get used to staying in touch with the world around you while you play.  At least, that's how I do it.  Some people build up a sort of a wall of concentration and it's like nothing exists but them and the piano.  Maybe that works for them, but not for me.  At least, not for leading congregational singing.

Offline Daniel_piano

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Re: Nervousity
Reply #10 on: January 26, 2005, 11:34:53 PM
I think everybody solves this in their own way.

But there also lot of people who never resolve this without some help from someone or book
Shyness, tension, nervousity, agitation, irritability, lack of self-esteem, stage fright, stress are epidemical problems of the western society and just 2% of all the people suffering from these problems are able to solve them in their lifetime without some help

Daniel
"Sometimes I lie awake at night and ask "Why me?" Then a voice answers "Nothing personal, your name just happened to come up.""

Offline lostinidlewonder

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Re: Nervousity
Reply #11 on: January 27, 2005, 01:49:33 PM
Most people are nervous because they are afraid in making mistakes. I know thats why I get nervous  :P But you eventually learn how to play through mistakes and in the end mistakes dont really matter. People wont think any less or more of you, most of the time they would be sympathetic towards you. I do remember at 14 playing the last movment of the Appassionata and when bar 50 came up i just stopped. Mind totally blank. Never happened before but it happened when it mattered. I did swear, and was picked up by the microphone that was amplifying the piano(yeah shoddy i know). But you just laugh at those ocassions, no one remembers that i stopped there, although i still remember. Why would they? There is so much more in their own lives to worry about than a mistake they heard at a piano competition.

 Mistakes are there to constantly push you to a better peformance. I still can't recall a concert yet that i have done where i havent made one small note mistake. I am not overall obsessed about achieving a peformance where every single right note is played. Some people can be, but the overall quality of the music I guess is much more important. People don't really care if there is one note or two out. They do care if you stop, if you repeat sections and muck up horribly like that, otherwise they just don't care. Most don't know what you are playing and dont know the peice well enough to know if you hit a right not or miss one note or two, so long the overall presentation of the music is there, the expression, that is what they are looking for. If it is competition then you better be sweating over note mistakes, some adjudicators are very strict on that unfortunatly.

Anyway, i guess if there was a complete saftey net looking after you in a peformance i dont think it would be as exhillerating. It is like walking on a tightrope which is 10 cms from the ground. Peformances are supposed to have some air of anxiety, afterall you might make a mistake and then stop and apologise to everyone, start again and do it again and again and again. That could happen. Now will you never go on stage again? no way :)
"The biggest risk in life is to take no risk at all."
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