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Anyone got any general advice for improving live performances? (Read 389 times)

Offline tzatzikiviki

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Anyone got any general advice for improving live performances?
« on: February 23, 2021, 10:11:26 AM »
I started playing the violin when I was 6 years old and the piano around 3 years later. I played the violin for 12 years in total and as it was always my main instrument, I ended up performing on it a lot more than on the piano – be it solo, or in the orchestra. I'm sure that this will have considerably contributed to the difference of my performance abilities on both instruments – however, it has always bewildered me that somehow, I find performing on the piano much much harder than on the violin. It's funny because the Violin as an instrument is actually way more difficult, but whenever I performed, I rarely made mistakes, only when I found a piece extremely difficult. However the adrenaline and nervosity usually in fact improved my performances.
On the piano however I freak out! My head is somewhere completely different, I find it hard to focus on the music, I get shaky, and often play the wrong notes. It drives me crazy!!
The only piece I managed to perform perfectly (out of the few I ever properly performed) was Clair de Lune, a couple of years ago. Currently I'm learning Liszts Liebestraum and Chopin's Nocturne Op. 48 No. 1, and would love to be able to perform those at some point. However they're quite hard, and as much as I can play them in the comfort of my home, my hands tend to go haywire in front of others.
Is this a problem that can only get better by knowing the piece inside out and infinite amount of practice, or are there any practical tips and tricks one could apply?
Would be super grateful for any help :)

Offline quantum

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Re: Anyone got any general advice for improving live performances?
«Reply #1 on: February 23, 2021, 11:20:29 AM »
Hi and welcome to Pianostreet.

You can practice recording yourself and treating the recorder as a live audience.  Do this frequently as part of a normal practice routine. 

Choose some pieces of music that are easy for you and practice performing them for a small audience, such as friends or family.  They should be pieces that are not at your technical limit, but rather ones that are well under that. 

Try to work with performance stress and nerves rather than fight it off.  Acknowledge its presence, and work at making your performance in the presence of nerves.  The nerves might not completely go away, but you can find was to work along side them without them dominating your mindset.

Find aspects of the music to focus on during the performance.   Nerves might create a distraction, but your focus should be disciplined so that nerves do not take over a performance.   Shaky moments are okay as long as you can quickly refocus to bring your mind back in the zone. 

Wrong notes are not what you should be worrying about.  Get through a performance with a focused mindset first.  Once you are able to do that consistently, then you can work at improving note accuracy.  Learn how to forget wrong notes quickly in the middle of performance.  I would recommend practising recovery from wrong notes, so that when it happens in a real performance you already have a strategy in place to deal with it. 

Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach

Offline tzatzikiviki

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Re: Anyone got any general advice for improving live performances?
«Reply #2 on: February 23, 2021, 02:12:20 PM »
Hi!

Thank you so much, that is very helpful :)

Offline anacrusis

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Re: Anyone got any general advice for improving live performances?
«Reply #3 on: February 23, 2021, 09:36:04 PM »
I took some psychology courses a few years ago and one thing I remember is that they told us that experiments show that people tend to perform better under pressure if it's a task they feel comes easily to them and they feel confident in (somebody who feels in total command over the piano/their pieces comes to mind) and that they tend to perform worse if the task feels difficult and they are not confident.

I agree with the advice from quantum. Choose to perform pieces that you feel well in command of. Once your abilities have grown, Liebestraum will not feel so difficult and it will be easier to perform! Hope that helps :)

Offline dogperson

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Re: Anyone got any general advice for improving live performances?
«Reply #4 on: February 23, 2021, 10:29:45 PM »
A few suggestions that have helped me:
Take your time getting started.  Take a few deep breaths before you play the first note.

We tend to hold our breath in preparation for a problem measure— take deep  breaths. I have even programmed them in

Concentrate on the music and not yourself— you may need an internal dialogue to stay focused: it could be an image, an internal reminder of the next note in the bass.  Anything associated with the actual music. 

Most important: the performance is not about you— it is an opportunity to share the music and your love of it. Don’t forget this. 😊

Offline getsiegs

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Re: Anyone got any general advice for improving live performances?
«Reply #5 on: February 23, 2021, 11:03:19 PM »
I would also suggest recording to mimic a performance setting - specifically filming. I get crazy performance anxiety, and filming is (I would say) the closest you can get to a live performance.

I have a habit of coming up on the "problem measures" as mentioned by dogperson and instead of taking deep breaths and being prepared, I'll get so full of nerves and end up panicking and cheating through the passage instead of executing it properly. It never hurts to give those spots extra time and patience so you aren't anxiously anticipating them in concert.

I like to film myself playing and I'll sometimes post videos online (whether here or for friends on social media), and that pressure of putting it online makes me nervous. It also makes me want to play perfectly and I'll start over and over until I get a take with no/few mistakes. This is why I would recommend trying it - it's low stakes, but it feels high stakes enough to give you some experience in dealing with your nerves when it really matters.

Offline j_tour

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Re: Anyone got any general advice for improving live performances?
«Reply #6 on: February 24, 2021, 01:45:10 AM »
I would also suggest recording to mimic a performance setting - specifically filming. I get crazy performance anxiety, and filming is (I would say) the closest you can get to a live performance.

I think I've probably said this here or elsewhere, but it's similar (not exact) to your suggestion.

Mostly when I started performing pretty regularly, after a longish hiatus of just "jamming" and fooling around, so I had some stage fright and was playing a bunch of kind of odd tunes written by a lead singer that I wasn't really crazy about.  Nothing was really certain with this particular group, which just added to my discomfort.

I'd just drink like a pot of coffee at home and try to mentally fool myself that I was in a state of high anxiety, and force myself to practice my parts that way.  Seemed to work fine.  In addition to overpreparing for everything, which was a long-standing practice from my years as a TA and lecturer in grad school. 

It was not difficult music, at all, but still, you had all the usual glasses clinking and audience chatter and your arms are sore from carrying all of your gear and setting up, so not a relaxing environment, maybe some people you didn't expect to show up did, and all that.

As a bonus, I developed an insane tolerance to caffeine, which has stuck with me to this day.

It's like that old apocryphal anecdote said about any number of players, you know, "Hey, man, you're wasted, hanging all over the bass like you can hardly stand up!  How can you play like that?"  "Easy, kid, I practice that way!"
My name is Nellie, and I take pride in helping protect the children of my community through active leadership roles in my local church and in the Boy Scouts of America.  Bad word make me sad.