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Topic Options
#1011715 - 12/15/08 02:36 PM OT: How do you deal with stage fright?
Boira Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/09/07
Posts: 472
Loc: Barcelona
How do you deal with stage fright?

People, I'm in trouble.

I collaborate with a group which organize traditional/popular celebrations and parades, with fireworks and music. We've got a subvention from the Culture Department of our Governement.

My job for this group is taking pictures of the whole thing (during the preparation of the pyrotechnics, people dressing up, the assembling of the dragons and other puppets used on the parade and of course the parade itself and the after-party). But two of the musicians went away and we have been without music for a year now.
One of the guys who run the show knows I can read music, so he proposed me to play the tarota (a woodwind instrument, the medieval precedent of the oboe). As if being able to read a score made you able to play anything in the world.
The Culture Department pays for the instrument, for the classes and for the rehearsal place.

Anyway, we've been rehearsing for a month now. The next parade we have to perform in is in mid February, and the songs we're supposed to play are only 4 quite simple medieval tunes.
So far, so good.

Now comes the difficult part.
I CAN'T perform in public. I'm introverted and asocial. NO WAY I can play in front of more than a thousand people, in the middle of the City Hall Square.
If I say 'no', we won't play because we're already missing one player.
If we don't play, our subvention will be considerabily reduced.
I have two months to find a miracle.
Alcohol and drugs are out of question. Beta-blockers too. So, what do I do?

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#1011716 - 12/15/08 02:49 PM Re: OT: How do you deal with stage fright?
U S A P T Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/20/06
Posts: 1645
Loc: An Indiana University
Eat a banana immediately beforehand.

Remember that the audience is your friend and that they are there to support you. Look at it as an embrace amongst friends.

Chances are they will be distracted anyway. Plus, you are playing in an ensemble which makes things a LOT easier.

Pretend that you are playing for a small group of trusted friends. If you mess up, don't make a face because people tend to not notice those things. Believe me I know this from experience. I played a double exposition for my last jury (the last section twice) and not a single juror caught it and I got an "A".

Just keep going. It's not the performance of a lifetime it's just a playing for friends. Even in a jury situation the teachers want you to do well and are rooting for you.

Let the music take you, close your eyes if you have to.

Never underestimate how much people want to help you acheive your dreams.

At worst, if you flub up, make a face and glare at someone else -- as if THEY made the mistake.

\:D
_________________________
Full-Time Music/Entrepreneurship Major: (Why not compose music AND businesses?)
Former Piano Industry Professional
************
Steinway M
Roland Atelier AT90R
************
All Posts are Snarky Unless Otherwise Noted
************

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#1011717 - 12/15/08 02:52 PM Re: OT: How do you deal with stage fright?
Ivory Dreams Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/12/08
Posts: 210
Loc: Central NC
Stage Fright gets better.

Start simple. Play for your friends. I often say to my friends as they are going out the door.... Wait, I want to play something for you.

They wait.

I play my latest project for them.

(I'm a far better cook than I am a piano player. I feed them well, so they have to wait and listen).

My playing is not always perfect, but playing in front of friendly groups is always easier.

Start there.
_________________________


You can own a Chickering, Christifori, or Steinway, but if you can't play it.... It is just a piece of eye candy.

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#1011718 - 12/15/08 02:53 PM Re: OT: How do you deal with stage fright?
Boira Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/09/07
Posts: 472
Loc: Barcelona
 Quote:
Originally posted by U S A P T:

At worst, if you flub up, make a face and glare at someone else -- as if THEY made the mistake.

\:D [/b]
YES! Now, that's a great tip \:D Hahahaha I'll remember that, I'm afraid it will be useful :rolleyes:

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#1011719 - 12/15/08 03:01 PM Re: OT: How do you deal with stage fright?
Oxfords Gal Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/21/06
Posts: 1553
Loc: Jacksonville, Florida
 Quote:
At worst, if you flub up, make a face and glare at someone else -- as if THEY made the mistake.
_________________________
Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear, Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair.>>> Herman Munster

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#1011720 - 12/15/08 03:01 PM Re: OT: How do you deal with stage fright?
BB Player Online   content


Registered: 11/17/06
Posts: 2717
Loc: Not in Texas
Hi Boira,

As USAPT said, you've got a big advantage that you're in an ensemble. No matter what you do, you won't be the complete focus of anyones attention. If you've ever been to an orchestral concert, did you ever focus on the 3rd trombonist?

Assuming you're not required to play a solo part, my advice on the day of the performance is to completely forget about the audience and focus your attention on someone else in the ensemble as if you're playing a duet with that person. Try to concentrate on them and playing with them.

I used to do a good deal of public speaking and I also found it helpful if I could be at the front of the room as the audience came in. That way, I could slowly adjust to being in front of the group. I also looked around for "friendly faces" in the audience so that when I was speaking I could look just at them. If there aren't any people you know in the crowd (surely you'll have friends there), just look for people with friendly expressions on their face and pretend you're playing just for them.

Hope this helps a little and good luck! Let us know how it goes.
_________________________
Greg

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#1011721 - 12/15/08 03:15 PM Re: OT: How do you deal with stage fright?
whippen boy Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 3886
Loc: San Francisco
This subject is not really off-topic, since every pianist has to confront this issue at some point. The advice given has been excellent (eat a banana \:\) , find opportunities to perform, block out the audience, etc.).

It is true that the more you perform, the less you worry about it. And ensemble playing is a bit less frightful.

I find that I am uneasy playing for 20 people, but when the number goes into the thousands it gets a lot easier - the crowd becomes a giant blob. \:\) Assuming you have no fear of giant blobs you should be fine!
_________________________
Grotrian 225
S&S Hamburg-C
M&H "A" at home

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#1011722 - 12/15/08 03:23 PM Re: OT: How do you deal with stage fright?
carolyn227 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/17/07
Posts: 107
Honestly, I find recording myself helps. I make a lot of the same mistakes when I know I'm not just playing for myself. The more I record myself, the more confident I get in my playing. Then work your way up to playing for small groups, as often as you can, until you are more at ease.

It's strange-- I never had stage fright until I went to college as a music major and realized how much better everyone else was compared to me! :rolleyes:
_________________________
Pianist and mom to three awesome kids (and budding musicians).

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#1011723 - 12/15/08 03:31 PM Re: OT: How do you deal with stage fright?
whippen boy Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 3886
Loc: San Francisco
 Quote:
Originally posted by carolyn227:
It's strange-- I never had stage fright until I went to college as a music major and realized how much better everyone else was compared to me! :rolleyes:
That's good news for Boira, since there are likely to be no tarota virtuosos in the crowd. \:D
_________________________
Grotrian 225
S&S Hamburg-C
M&H "A" at home

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#1011724 - 12/15/08 04:11 PM Re: OT: How do you deal with stage fright?
Lisztener Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/12/06
Posts: 921
Hello Boira,

I'm sure you will report that you had a wonderful experience playing...after the fact.

Good luck,

Lisztener
_________________________


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#1011725 - 12/15/08 04:20 PM Re: OT: How do you deal with stage fright?
Boira Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/09/07
Posts: 472
Loc: Barcelona
Thank you all for your ideas and encouragement! :3hearts:

Whippen boy, certainly there'll be no tarota virtuosos in the crowd (as far as I know)... but when I'll miss a note they'll know. The tarota is the medieval mix between an oboe and an ambulance siren \:D
Playing in an ensemble is safer than performing solo, that's comforting.
OUUFFF I'm going to be eating bananas non-stop for the next two months!

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#1011726 - 12/15/08 04:58 PM Re: OT: How do you deal with stage fright?
whippen boy Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 3886
Loc: San Francisco
 Quote:
Originally posted by Boira:
The tarota is the medieval mix between an oboe and an ambulance siren \:D
Oh, then we'll definitely want to hear a recording of that!
_________________________
Grotrian 225
S&S Hamburg-C
M&H "A" at home

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#1011727 - 12/15/08 07:17 PM Re: OT: How do you deal with stage fright?
Seaside_Lee Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/19/04
Posts: 2167
Loc: Blackpool, UK
Hi Boira

playing for friends and family is a great start the pressure is very similar

other things to do between now and then

1. Go to music stores and play on the pianos, try them out especially when people are in (though no one is listening the pressure is just the same)

2. record yourself again and again red dot pressure is the same if not worse LOL

3. Go to restaurants and hotel lobbies, shopping malls where there are pianos (if you can find them ) and ask if it is okay to play for them...some will be happy to let you play - the pressure is just the same.

the more you do this the easier it gets and trust me you will get admiration and sometimes applause because 99.9% of people will think you are genius even if you can only play twinkle twinkle


Lee \:\)
_________________________
Twitter: @Seaside_Lee

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#1011728 - 12/15/08 08:06 PM Re: OT: How do you deal with stage fright?
mdsdurango Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/04
Posts: 1755
Loc: Durango Colorado
Drugs and alcohal are out of question?

Last month I had a public gig with the Geezer Trio. I was nerve wracked! So - I invited all my friends to sit at the closest tables and just figured I'd be making mistakes. Oh Boy!
I made plenty of mistakes, I'd get lost in the middle of a tune and yell out to my bass player to tell me where we where, but no one seemed to care. I just kept on playing and at the end of the number all my friends clapped and screamed and filled the tip jar as well as the wait staff of the venues pockets (it was one of their better nights!)

I.O.W. Allow yourself to KNOW that there is no backing out, that you are committed to doing this and that it will be what it will be - mistakes and all. That knowledge alone will help you relax.
At least it did me.
Invite your friends!

Mike
_________________________
WHAT???????
Yamaha S6, U5C, P120
http://michaelstith.com

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#1011729 - 12/15/08 11:00 PM Re: OT: How do you deal with stage fright?
Larisa Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/03/08
Posts: 498
Loc: Philadelphia
One of the things that really helped me in my first few performances was to firmly tell myself "It's not about me - it's about the music". The audience is not there to stare at me - they are there to listen to the music I make. I am merely a conduit for the music the audience came to hear.

And I second the request for a recording. \:\)

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#1011730 - 12/16/08 06:28 PM Re: OT: How do you deal with stage fright?
melwig Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/18/08
Posts: 94
Loc: California
Boira,

I can try all the self-talk in the world, but nothing helps as much as just doing it. You have two months before the big event. I suggest you play in front of people as much as possible. Take every opportunity to get performance exposure to de-sensitize yourself to the experience. Create your own opportunities by asking friends and family to listen to you play. Sit on a park bench and play. Have a seat at your local shopping mall and play (and don't forget your tip cup;) When dealing with fear, move towards it.
_________________________
Keep it fun, and stay motivated!

If you can achieve something without a struggle, it's not going to be satisfying.


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#1011731 - 12/17/08 05:44 AM Re: OT: How do you deal with stage fright?
Boira Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/09/07
Posts: 472
Loc: Barcelona
Thank you again for all your words of encouragement.

Mdsdurango, you're right, there's no backing out, so worrying about it will not help nor change the situation. I'll do it!

And what the heck, if I mess up I can always say it's an alternative minimalistic abstract version and if they don't appreciate it is because my performance is in a much higher plane \:D

PD: the Gin and Tonic option is starting to look interesting.

Thanks again

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#1011732 - 12/17/08 05:51 AM Re: OT: How do you deal with stage fright?
ll Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/14/08
Posts: 1101
To the OT:

Just think, "I don't see any of THEM up here."

Works like a charm.

Unless they were up there :gasp:
_________________________
II. As in, second best.
Only lowercase. So not even that.
I teach piano and violin.
BM, Violin & Percussion Performance 2009, Piano Pedagogy 2011.

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#1011733 - 12/17/08 11:55 AM Re: OT: How do you deal with stage fright?
timeturner Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/03/08
Posts: 26
Sometimes it helps to remind yourself how amazing you are. Think about it: just by showing up you are already better than the 2 people who dropped out!

You're brave, committed, and are doing the best you possibly can with what time limits and learning curves you were given. You've already won a race with yourself by agreeing to do this...so take a breath and enjoy the group performance. Consider it your celebration of how much you've accomplished instead of thinking of it like a test. \:\)

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#1011734 - 12/17/08 12:32 PM Re: OT: How do you deal with stage fright?
Beethoven Fan Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/06/07
Posts: 191
Well, if the Tarota is an awkward enough sounding instrument, say "that's how it's supposed to sound, its musical dissonance". i've never heard a tarota but there have been times where I'm playing something I keep looking at the sheetmusic to make sure i'm playing right just because I think it sounds funny.

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