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#1993616 - 12/02/12 11:35 AM how to get over traumatic memory slip experience
Pogorelich. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4528
Loc: in the past
Any advice? I have two concerts next week, and just bombed a concert on Friday - had a catastrophic memory slip in the 1st movement of Rachmaninoff 1st sonata (was playing random crap for a few seconds, then stopped, apologized and skipped 3-4 pages and continued on), and I have to play this again twice next week. I feel traumatized - this sort of thing has never happened to me before, ever.

I know it happens to everyone, but it was probably the most frightening experience of my life. Has that ever happened to you and how did you recover from it before your next performance??
_________________________

'I want to invest my emotions only in music; it will never disappoint me or hurt me - it is a safe place to be.'

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#1993634 - 12/02/12 12:26 PM Re: how to get over traumatic memory slip experience [Re: Pogorelich.]
Keith D Kerman Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/12/03
Posts: 3310
Loc: Gaithersburg, MD (Washington D...
Unfortunately, the only way one finds out what they don't really know in a piece of music is to perform it under pressure.

I would recommend first trying to figure out what happened. Why did it happen? I would then try and build extra fail safes into that section. How many different ways is that section memorized? Aural? Physical? Visual? Harmonic? Emotional? Interpretive?

Is the fingering absolutely determined and automatic?

I would also make sure that I had more references that were closer together, so if it happens again, the next spot you think of is 2 measures away, rather than 1 page away.

Try practicing with a recreation of the pressure that may have thrown you. Record yourself as if you are performing it. Get peers who make you nervous to listen to you run it through.

This has happened to me, at various levels, and honestly, I am pretty clever about how I learn a piece of music, but when something like this worries me, I make sure I just beat that section into my muscle memory until I can't screw it up. And, while I am beating it to death, it is also reinforcing all of my other memory fail safes.

Anyways, I am sorry you went through this cause I know how much it is traumatizing, but, you just have to get back on that horse again and start building more and more successes until the emotional energy from this nightmare weakens.
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#1993640 - 12/02/12 12:53 PM Re: how to get over traumatic memory slip experience [Re: Pogorelich.]
DanS Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/28/12
Posts: 554
It happens to everyone!

Try writing out that section on paper, or playing through it in your head several times. That'll show any weak spots.

As for getting over the performance jitters that this can cause, try performing it as much as possible before your next big performance. Most elder care facilities have a piano in their main room. All you have to do is show up and ask to play. They always say yes, and they're an appreciative audience. A lot of restaurants have piano and nobody playing during lunchtime. They're another great place to try before you play more serious venues.

HTH,

dan
_________________________
"Most pianists are poor musicians, they dissect music into bits-and-pieces, like a roast chicken" -Debussy

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#1993649 - 12/02/12 01:09 PM Re: how to get over traumatic memory slip experience [Re: Pogorelich.]
Damon Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/22/06
Posts: 6114
Loc: St. Louis area
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.

I know it happens to everyone, but it was probably the most frightening experience of my life. Has that ever happened to you and how did you recover from it before your next performance??


I didn't recover before my next performance. I got over it after my next performance, which went well. I've never come to a complete stop, however, but I have repeated previous measures several times until muscle memory finally remembered.
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It's been scientifically proven that Horowitz sucks.

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#1993669 - 12/02/12 01:41 PM Re: how to get over traumatic memory slip experience [Re: Pogorelich.]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
Try writing the piece out on paper from memory. Although this may take a whole with the Rachmaninoff sonata.


Edited by debrucey (12/02/12 01:41 PM)

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#1993787 - 12/02/12 05:28 PM Re: how to get over traumatic memory slip experience [Re: Pogorelich.]
Pogorelich. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4528
Loc: in the past
Thanks all. I'd love to write it out, but the next performance is in 3 days and I should be practicing.... I know why it happened (the ONLY place of the piece that I know I can't play my left hand alone), I had about 15 hours of notice for this concert, then had to spend 5 hours of masterclass and function on no sleep, and almost no practice time. So I know all that. I just wonder how I can mentally get over this and not be afraid of the piece...
_________________________

'I want to invest my emotions only in music; it will never disappoint me or hurt me - it is a safe place to be.'

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#1993792 - 12/02/12 05:33 PM Re: how to get over traumatic memory slip experience [Re: Pogorelich.]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3555
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
I find the better I understand a piece harmonically speaking, the less prone to memory blanks I am. I will also often play through a piece in chord clusters rather than how it's really played in terms of arpeggiations and figurations. That way the whole piece can be conceptualised as a chord progression, with certain melodic attributes. It breaks it all down so that once the fancy stuff is put back in, it's just decoration and it doesn't threaten your overall understanding and awareness of where you are in the grander scheme of things. This approach is obviously only going to work if you have a very thorough grasp of harmony, of course.

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#1993795 - 12/02/12 05:39 PM Re: how to get over traumatic memory slip experience [Re: Pogorelich.]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2606
Loc: Manchester, UK
One thing that will definitely affect your memory is how tired you are. Make sure you get good sleep over the next few days.

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#1993798 - 12/02/12 05:42 PM Re: how to get over traumatic memory slip experience [Re: Pogorelich.]
BDB Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/07/03
Posts: 21420
Loc: Oakland
Try to use up all of your memory slip credits to forget about your past memory slips.
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Semipro Tech

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#1993804 - 12/02/12 05:56 PM Re: how to get over traumatic memory slip experience [Re: Pogorelich.]
gooddog Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 4791
Loc: Seattle area, WA
Pogo, I don't have much to add but I wanted you to know I am sorry you went through such a painful experience. Of course you know that no human is perfect; just don't forget to forgive yourself and move on.
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Deborah

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#1993886 - 12/02/12 09:44 PM Re: how to get over traumatic memory slip experience [Re: Pogorelich.]
jmcintyre Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/10/10
Posts: 228
Loc: Wash. DC area
15 hours of notice?!?

I too am so sorry to hear what you went through, but you deserve a HUGE amount of credit for even taking that on. I hope you don't let it get to you in a bad way:

I can't offer any personal stories, and am not qualified to give advice to someone on your level, but it seems to me there's good advice above. Prepare as well as you can, but in the end don't let it get to you... you can only move forward.
_________________________
I'd rather be practicing wink
Kawai K-3, Roland FP-7F
Now: Brahms Op. 118, Bach French Suite #5

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#1994000 - 12/03/12 06:45 AM Re: how to get over traumatic memory slip experience [Re: Pogorelich.]
DonaldLee Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/14/11
Posts: 166
I would say take it head head on. As Uchida said about Schoenberg's Concerto: "You just have to get out there and 'hop' it goes!!!!". Had a similar experience at an area recital that I didn't sign up for. I was asked to perform Beethoven op. 81a on 30 minutes notice to fill up time, and I stupidly said yes. I had a terrible memory lapse during the second movement, and I just played random things until I got it back together. I had never been so shaken so much in my life, and had to get over the fear of performing. When I had to perform my Schubert Impromptu, I just had to walk out there quickly and start playing. After the first note, I was fine again. I just learned what my limits are, and now I can avoid that situation.
_________________________
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Bach Prelude and Fugue in b-flat minor (WTC Book I)
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#1994096 - 12/03/12 11:42 AM Re: how to get over traumatic memory slip experience [Re: Pogorelich.]
sophial Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/05
Posts: 3459
Loc: US
Try to play in the setting and on the piano you will be performing on or try it out in lots of different settings in practice performances. I'm always surprised at how my memory gets thrown off by just being in a different setting, with different lighting, instrument, and other variables.

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#1994106 - 12/03/12 11:54 AM Re: how to get over traumatic memory slip experience [Re: Pogorelich.]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5295
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
Thanks all. I'd love to write it out, but the next performance is in 3 days and I should be practicing.... I know why it happened (the ONLY place of the piece that I know I can't play my left hand alone), I had about 15 hours of notice for this concert, then had to spend 5 hours of masterclass and function on no sleep, and almost no practice time. So I know all that. I just wonder how I can mentally get over this and not be afraid of the piece...

It's very very tough, no doubt about it. I think it's critically important to accept that no matter what you do, you will be nervous when you step on stage. It's human nature. You can help to minimize it by practicing a psychological technique, the name for which (ironically) escapes me at the moment. Take a few minutes (or as much time as you can spare each day--especially when you wake up, first sit down at the keys, and go to sleep), and picture yourself playing the piece perfectly. Every note well. Every audience member enthralled. A very positive experience. The most positive you can make it.

Then, when you step on stage, a part of your mind will believe in that positive experience--the more you practice it mentally, the greater that mental picture will be when you get to the moment--and you will perform wonderfully.

It won't take away the nerves. But you will play it well. Then, afterwards, you will look back and laugh--and that will take away the nerves. smile
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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#1994185 - 12/03/12 03:13 PM Re: how to get over traumatic memory slip experience [Re: ando]
MarkH Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/16/08
Posts: 855
Loc: Seattle, WA
Originally Posted By: ando
I will also often play through a piece in chord clusters rather than how it's really played in terms of arpeggiations and figurations. That way the whole piece can be conceptualised as a chord progression, with certain melodic attributes. It breaks it all down so that once the fancy stuff is put back in, it's just decoration and it doesn't threaten your overall understanding and awareness of where you are in the grander scheme of things.


This is great advice! I've been thinking of trying to do this more seriously. Thanks for the push smile
_________________________
Currently Studying: Bach - English Suite No. 5; Beethoven - Op. 27 No. 1; Chopin - Op. 27 No. 1; Chopin - 3rd Scherzo

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#1994196 - 12/03/12 03:31 PM Re: how to get over traumatic memory slip experience [Re: Pogorelich.]
Opus_Maximus Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/27/04
Posts: 1485
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
Thanks all. I'd love to write it out, but the next performance is in 3 days and I should be practicing.... I know why it happened (the ONLY place of the piece that I know I can't play my left hand alone), I had about 15 hours of notice for this concert, then had to spend 5 hours of masterclass and function on no sleep, and almost no practice time. So I know all that. I just wonder how I can mentally get over this and not be afraid of the piece...


There's your best advice; right there. You were in no position to be playing onstage under those circumstances, especially from memory. As long as you know WHY it happened and how it won't happen again, that alone should give you enough mental peace of mind to relax you for your next performance.


Edited by Opus_Maximus (12/03/12 03:31 PM)

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#1994811 - 12/05/12 12:03 AM Re: how to get over traumatic memory slip experience [Re: Pogorelich.]
Barb860 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/11/09
Posts: 1646
Loc: northern California
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
Thanks all. I'd love to write it out, but the next performance is in 3 days and I should be practicing.... I know why it happened (the ONLY place of the piece that I know I can't play my left hand alone), I had about 15 hours of notice for this concert, then had to spend 5 hours of masterclass and function on no sleep, and almost no practice time. So I know all that. I just wonder how I can mentally get over this and not be afraid of the piece...


You can let the experience define you, destroy you, or strengthen you. From your many posts here, we know you are a very talented, skilled pianist. You will be all the stronger from this experience.
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#1994912 - 12/05/12 07:34 AM Re: how to get over traumatic memory slip experience [Re: Pogorelich.]
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
maybe you could make a visual outline of the piece... you'll be ok i bet. I know 'writing' out a problem helps me. sometimes we just meet a glitch.

I like your advice Derulux.

good luck.
_________________________
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, ├Ľun (apple in Estonian)

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#1994932 - 12/05/12 09:08 AM Re: how to get over traumatic memory slip experience [Re: Pogorelich.]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11744
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Sleep is extremely important, first of all.

Secondly, forgive yourself (or maybe that should be first smile ). Mistakes will happen, and understand that your audience will for the most part be gracious about it and wants you to succeed. Let the past go and move forward.

Third, be efficient with your practice time. Mark key spots in your music to start from. Choose from obvious places where the themes change first. Then take a look at where you had the memory slip, and find a place right after it that you can skip to next time. That will be Plan B (Plan A, of course, is to play it right). Be OK with having to skip measures. The piece can still be enjoyable to the audience even if you miss some things. Practice starting from these spots at random so that you can call them up at need.
_________________________
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#1994989 - 12/05/12 11:19 AM Re: how to get over traumatic memory slip experience [Re: Pogorelich.]
Pogorelich. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4528
Loc: in the past
Yes, I know how to practice - and I know why this happened, I just didn't do my homework enough and the piece is about 2 months old. So for me, very new. I agree with Morodene - and yes, I do all of that. I can usually start from any measure in a piece, with either hand. And yes, sometimes I go through the trouble of "play one bar and skip the next" - really helps! Or left hand with RH melody notes only, etc. I could've easily jumped that bar and gone on to the next phrase, but when your body and mind are so tired you lack your normal strength to get you through it. At least for me.

Just wanted advice on mentally getting over this.

Actually, I feel better. A colleague of mine laughed and said "[censored] happens to everyone" (he's of the most brilliant pianists I know) told me two horror stories that happened to him.. so we are all human. I will never let this happen again!
_________________________

'I want to invest my emotions only in music; it will never disappoint me or hurt me - it is a safe place to be.'

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#1995023 - 12/05/12 12:33 PM Re: how to get over traumatic memory slip experience [Re: Pogorelich.]
carey Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6294
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
Actually, I feel better. A colleague of mine laughed and said "[censored] happens to everyone" (he's of the most brilliant pianists I know) told me two horror stories that happened to him.. so we are all human. I will never let this happen again!


In other words, you will try not to put yourself in a similar situation in the future that might lead to this type of unfortunate event. grin

The best thing is to learn from the traumatic event and move on (which you are obviously doing thumb ). But don't be surprised if a similar thing happens in the future when you least expect it. Just pick up the pieces and move on from that as well. As humans, we are far from perfect....but we can always strive for perfection !!!
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#1995035 - 12/05/12 01:02 PM Re: how to get over traumatic memory slip experience [Re: Pogorelich.]
Entheo Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/12/04
Posts: 1111
Loc: chicago, il
_________________________
diary of an amateur pianist

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#1995439 - 12/06/12 12:38 PM Re: how to get over traumatic memory slip experience [Re: Pogorelich.]
im@me Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/21/12
Posts: 68
I recently played a Mozart sonata by memory, and half way through the last movement my mind went blank, so I improvised all of the recapitulation, and no one noticed laugh

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#1995461 - 12/06/12 01:19 PM Re: how to get over traumatic memory slip experience [Re: im@me]
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 17939
Loc: Victoria, BC
Originally Posted By: im@me
I recently played a Mozart sonata by memory, and half way through the last movement my mind went blank, so I improvised all of the recapitulation, and no one noticed laugh


That may say as much about your audience's level of musical knowledge and sophistication as it does about your improvisatory skills.

Regards,
_________________________
BruceD
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#1995477 - 12/06/12 01:48 PM Re: how to get over traumatic memory slip experience [Re: BruceD]
ando Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/10
Posts: 3555
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Originally Posted By: BruceD
Originally Posted By: im@me
I recently played a Mozart sonata by memory, and half way through the last movement my mind went blank, so I improvised all of the recapitulation, and no one noticed laugh


That may say as much about your audience's level of musical knowledge and sophistication as it does about your improvisatory skills.

Regards,


Still better than the alternative though (stopping, trying to restart). Even some audience members with some knowledge of Mozart might be debating among themselves whether you had some ultra-urtext transcription of the piece or something!

I think we are there to make music and entertain first, be correct second. I have no problem with such a thing happening. After all, it's exactly what Mozart himself would have done in one of his own recitals if he forgot part of the music. Talk about authentic! wink

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#1995626 - 12/06/12 07:32 PM Re: how to get over traumatic memory slip experience [Re: Pogorelich.]
Dave Horne Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5276
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
It's not a crime to use music, is it? Unless it's a requirement of a course, I'd use music. (I haven't read all the posts ... and this is my third glass of wine. I earned it.)
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#1995650 - 12/06/12 08:25 PM Re: how to get over traumatic memory slip experience [Re: Pogorelich.]
Pogorelich. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4528
Loc: in the past
You cannot use music for a Rachmaninoff sonata... you kind of need to be looking at your hands... hahaha
_________________________

'I want to invest my emotions only in music; it will never disappoint me or hurt me - it is a safe place to be.'

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#1995681 - 12/06/12 10:41 PM Re: how to get over traumatic memory slip experience [Re: Pogorelich.]
Entheo Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/12/04
Posts: 1111
Loc: chicago, il
Originally Posted By: Pogorelich.
You cannot use music for a Rachmaninoff sonata... you kind of need to be looking at your hands... hahaha


richter did.

you don't have to look at the music the whole time.
_________________________
diary of an amateur pianist

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#1995709 - 12/07/12 12:24 AM Re: how to get over traumatic memory slip experience [Re: ando]
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 17939
Loc: Victoria, BC
Originally Posted By: ando
[...]some ultra-urtext transcription [...]


"... urtext transcription..."? Isn't that an oxymoron?
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BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190

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#1995711 - 12/07/12 12:27 AM Re: how to get over traumatic memory slip experience [Re: BruceD]
ChopinAddict Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/09
Posts: 6098
Loc: Land of the never-ending music
Maybe he means something like "beyond" with "ultra"?
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Music is my best friend.


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