Welcome to the Piano World Piano Forums
Over 2 million posts about pianos, digital pianos, and all types of keyboard instruments
Join the World's Largest Community of Piano Lovers (it's free)
It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!

SEARCH
the Forums & Piano World

This custom search works much better than the built in one and allows searching older posts.
(ad 125) Sweetwater - Digital Keyboards & Other Gear
Digital Pianos at Sweetwater
(ad) Pearl River
Pearl River Pianos
(ad) Pianoteq
Latest Pianoteq add-on instrument: U4 upright piano
(ad) P B Guide
Acoustic & Digital Piano Guide
PianoSupplies.com (150)
Piano Accessories Music Related Gifts Piano Tuning Equipment Piano Moving Equipment
We now offer Gift Certificates in our online store!
(ad) Estonia Piano
Estonia Piano
Quick Links to Useful Stuff
Our Classified Ads
Find Piano Professionals-

*Piano Dealers - Piano Stores
*Piano Tuners
*Piano Teachers
*Piano Movers
*Piano Restorations
*Piano Manufacturers
*Organs

Quick Links:
*Advertise On Piano World
*Free Piano Newsletter
*Online Piano Recitals
*Piano Recitals Index
*Piano Accessories
* Buying a Piano
*Buying A Acoustic Piano
*Buying a Digital Piano
*Pianos for Sale
*Sell Your Piano
*How Old is My Piano?
*Piano Books
*Piano Art, Pictures, & Posters
*Directory/Site Map
*Contest
*Links
*Virtual Piano
*Music Word Search
*Piano Screen Saver
*Piano Videos
*Virtual Piano Chords
Page 3 of 4 < 1 2 3 4 >
Topic Options
#2027187 - 02/04/13 11:30 PM Re: Performance anxiety getting progressively worse [Re: Vasilievich]
Nikolas Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5261
Loc: Europe
A note if possible...

This is an Internet thread. And this IS the Internet. For the shake of sanity do NOT take any drugs based on what you read here!

Vasilievich: Hang in there. It's another 5 months, right? Get on with it, finish off your studies and then find a person you can feel as your mentor and start working properly. Your current teacher is... oh well... I can't swear here, can I? cursing

Moreover your friend was RIGHT to tell you everything about your teacher. Now you can claim back your fears and trace them to your ugly teacher! It's not you, it never was you!
_________________________
http://www.musica-ferrum.com

Top
Ad 800 (Pearl River)
Pearl River World's Best Selling Piano
#2027284 - 02/05/13 05:43 AM Re: Performance anxiety getting progressively worse [Re: Vasilievich]
bennevis Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5119
It's important that we don't let our prejudices - often based on no knowledge, or hearsay 'knowledge' - cloud our judgement, or indeed, our advice to others.

Doctors practise evidence-based medicine - i.e. everything is based on science and research (over years, if not decades). Not innate prejudices, like 'all drugs are dangerous, (except alcohol and nicotine)', or 'never take drugs at any cost, unless it's alcohol or nicotine'. I hope people see the fallacy of that argument.

I also think some people here haven't read the OP's posts properly, and just chime in with their own recommendations, most of which have already been tried by the OP with no success.

Please, let's not propagate our own prejudices - especially those based on no medical knowledge whatsoever - and let the OP decide for himself whether he should seek the advice of his physician.

And let's be clear on this - anxiety is a licensed indication for propranol use. There are many medications which are prescribed off-licence for certain indications, but this isn't one of them.

_________________________
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

Top
#2027286 - 02/05/13 05:49 AM Re: Performance anxiety getting progressively worse [Re: Vasilievich]
Nikolas Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5261
Loc: Europe
bennevis, I don't know if your post is aimed at me, but my point was that I think someone needs more than an internet post to take any kind of drugs, but some paracetamol, for example...
_________________________
http://www.musica-ferrum.com

Top
#2027288 - 02/05/13 06:02 AM Re: Performance anxiety getting progressively worse [Re: Nikolas]
bennevis Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5119
Originally Posted By: Nikolas
bennevis, I don't know if your post is aimed at me, but my point was that I think someone needs more than an internet post to take any kind of drugs, but some paracetamol, for example...


Yes, it was, to you and a few others.

I don't think anyone here is telling the OP to go take propranolol (but some are telling him not to take it at any costs). What we are saying is, don't stop him from (or advise him against) seeking medical advice. Those here who have used it have told us of their experiences. Whereas others are parrotting their own prejudices based on no personal experience of the drug, and no medical knowledge.

To get propranolol legally, you need a prescription, therefore you need to consult a physician.
_________________________
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

Top
#2027298 - 02/05/13 07:02 AM Re: Performance anxiety getting progressively worse [Re: bennevis]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7840
Originally Posted By: bennevis


To get propranolol legally, you need a prescription, therefore you need to consult a physician.


That depends on where you are, I think.

Top
#2027319 - 02/05/13 08:25 AM Re: Performance anxiety getting progressively worse [Re: Vasilievich]
Morodiene Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/06/07
Posts: 11913
Loc: Boynton Beach, FL
Beta blockers can help, but it's like putting a bandaid on a deep cut. It may help, but it doesn't solve the problem. So I appreciate the poster who said combining beta blockers with counseling and other methods might be a good route.

To the OP, I'm not quite sure why that person decided to tell you what your teacher did, hopefully it was to let you know that they are disrespecting you. But really, there is not much you should do about it at this point. You have a recital to do, and you will have to do it without his support.

Something that has always been a necessary element to performing well is being in love mode vs. fear mode. When you feel loved by those around you, there is no room to be afraid (perfect love drives out fear). However, when there is clearly no love (i.e. from the person who should be supporting you the most - your teacher) then it is very hard to overcome, but not impossible.

You must first realize that this person does not really care about you, they care about themselves and how you reflect upon them. Such self-serving people have no business being a teacher, but they do find their way into such positions somehow. This is not to say that they have nothing of value to teach, but you must pick and choose what to learn form them. Fear, is not something you need to learn from them, for example.

I've noticed that those who suffer from performance anxiety tend to care too much. They project their own judgments that they have of themselves onto the audience, who most likely - except in the rare cases of people like your teacher - actually want to just be entertained and are looking forward to hearing you play. Think about it: when you go to hear a colleague perform or a professional, do you go expecting them to screw up, hoping they'll screw up, or get all bent out of shape when they screw up? Of course not! You want to hear what they have to say, and you want them to do well. If they make a mistake, if the performer doesn't make a big deal out of it, neither do you. If they screw up and they do end up barely making it through the rest of the piece, don't you feel bad for them? The audience is more likely to be on your side than against you, and those that are against you - those that expect you to fail, think that you don't have anything of value to say, can't appreciate your efforts - are they really worth thinking about anyways? Those aren't the people you want to even associate with, I'm sure.

Once you graduate you can then surround yourself with those who believe in you. Until then, you have your teacher to contend with, so that is the first thing you must tackle in your mind. Understand that this person is not someone you will ever please, nor should you try to. Instead, focus your energy on playing beautifully (but not perfectly) for those who will appreciate you, those who think you are a musical person and have something of value to say that they want to hear. There's a lot more of these latter people in your audience than the kind that are like your teacher. So love your audience rather than fear them, and they will love you back.
_________________________
private piano/voice teacher - full time
MTNA member
www.valeoconservatory.com
Petrof 9'2 Concert, Yamaha G3, Roland FP-7, Yamaha MOX6, Kawai MP11

Top
#2027344 - 02/05/13 09:40 AM Re: Performance anxiety getting progressively worse [Re: Vasilievich]
Sandra M Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/09/11
Posts: 56
"How to Make Performance Anxiety an Asset Instead of a Liability" an excellent article written by Dr Noa Kageyama who is a Juilliard School of Music graduate. Sandra M

Top
#2027381 - 02/05/13 11:16 AM Re: Performance anxiety getting progressively worse [Re: Vasilievich]
FarmGirl Offline

Silver Supporter until Jan 02 2013


Registered: 09/14/10
Posts: 1990
Loc: Scottsdale, AZ
What a wonderful thread!
_________________________
Solo - Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, Schubert Sonata D960 Andante sostenute (9/7/14), Bach f minor Fugue WTC Bk1, Rachmaninoff Elegie Op 3 #1, Chopin Trois Nouvelles Etudes #1



Top
#2027397 - 02/05/13 11:35 AM Re: Performance anxiety getting progressively worse [Re: bennevis]
Nikolas Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5261
Loc: Europe
Originally Posted By: bennevis
Originally Posted By: Nikolas
bennevis, I don't know if your post is aimed at me, but my point was that I think someone needs more than an internet post to take any kind of drugs, but some paracetamol, for example...


Yes, it was, to you and a few others.

I don't think anyone here is telling the OP to go take propranolol (but some are telling him not to take it at any costs). What we are saying is, don't stop him from (or advise him against) seeking medical advice. Those here who have used it have told us of their experiences. Whereas others are parrotting their own prejudices based on no personal experience of the drug, and no medical knowledge.

To get propranolol legally, you need a prescription, therefore you need to consult a physician.
You need to remember that this is an international forum, which means that I'm reading it from Greece, others might be reading it from Azerbaijan, etc. All advice taken in, it certainly doesn't mean that one needs a prescription to get propranolol in my part of the world actually! wink Simple as that. That's the point.

More over, it's not about prejudice or anything, but some simple ideas: For matters are serious as drugs, an Internet post is not enough for me. That's all I'm saying. Apart from personal feelings and opinions and comments about how to deal with the problem (to which I disagree with taking drugs of any kind for such an issue, but that's besides the point right now).

So, yes, seek medical advice (heck I said so in my first post here), but not in an Internet forum! wink
_________________________
http://www.musica-ferrum.com

Top
#2027428 - 02/05/13 12:46 PM Re: Performance anxiety getting progressively worse [Re: Sandra M]
Vasilievich Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/04/10
Posts: 90
Originally Posted By: Sandra M
"How to Make Performance Anxiety an Asset Instead of a Liability" an excellent article written by Dr Noa Kageyama who is a Juilliard School of Music graduate. Sandra M

I was actually wondering if this would come up. I am very familiar with Dr. Kageyama's writing and his website, The Bulletproof Musician, as it is the only website I know of devoted solely to issues of performance. Hence, I have great respect for his focus and efforts on this issue; however, his suggestions are essentially continually rehashed positive thinking, visualization strategies, and some generic practice and lifestyle advice like slow practice and getting enough sleep—things I either already do or have had little success with. His writing is too abstract, verbose and philosophical for my taste; essentially, a lot of this sort of advice could be summed up as "if you don't want to get nervous, then tell yourself not to be nervous" and unfortunately my body and mind don't seem to want to listen to me, so that approach doesn't work. There is also just not enough science (neuroscience or formal/informal studies) in his writing for my taste, and he quotes poets, authors and philosophers more often than any sort of actual research or scientific information. I realize part of that is simply the general approach he is taking to the issue, which is primarily a psycho-philosophical one, but I have not had success with this approach-at least in the format of reading a generic statement online or in a book and trying to apply it to specific situations in my life.

Top
#2027429 - 02/05/13 12:46 PM Re: Performance anxiety getting progressively worse [Re: Vasilievich]
chickenlump Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/13/12
Posts: 54
Loc: Canada
Yes, I think in the end, the best suggestion is to seek professional help - whether a physician or a counsellor.

I think what people need to realize is that there is a normal performance anxiety that everyone has, and there is a pathologic anxiety that actually severely inhibits function - much more than someone else in the same situation may feel.

I'm not condoning medications on a whim or minor conditions, but I think people need to be sensitive to the fact that if there is truly a mental health condition (and I mean this in a general sense, not in a bad connotation), medications can be a powerful help, along with other proven therapies (ie. CBT).

There is this overwhelming public notion that mental help is something that we should be able to get over with the sheer power of will or thought. If there truly is an underlying condition, there no amount of praying, hoping, will power that will get them over it, because it is an actual brain disease. I just find it sad that this prevailing thought delays people seeking help and harms people's long term lives and rate of recovery.

Top
#2027441 - 02/05/13 01:06 PM Re: Performance anxiety getting progressively worse [Re: bennevis]
BeccaBb Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/11
Posts: 905
Loc: Thunder Bay, On Canada
Originally Posted By: bennevis

Please, let's not propagate our own prejudices - especially those based on no medical knowledge whatsoever - and let the OP decide for himself whether he should seek the advice of his physician.


Okay I'll bite here. What exactly are your qualifications?

I'm a trained Social Service Worker. I've working with addictions, elderly, and vulnerable populations (mental illness of serious natures.) That's on top of my own struggles with PTSD and having to use the very services I've provided.

I do absolutely agree that if the OP feels this might be more serious then the average performance anxiety that he/she should seek professional assistance. I also agree that medication can be helpful as long as it's understood it's just a band aid and will not resolve the problem only mask it short term. (which is sometimes exactly what's needed.) I stand by my post that finding the root of the problem and finding the right skills to deal with it are the best approach.

I think the OP is already beginning to figure out what the root problem is. The beginning to any solution.

To the OP: best of luck! I think your on the right path in discovering what will help you the most!
_________________________
Becca
Began: 01-12-11


Floundering and Lost
Roland RD300NX

Top
#2027451 - 02/05/13 01:23 PM Re: Performance anxiety getting progressively worse [Re: BeccaBb]
bennevis Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5119
Originally Posted By: BeccaBb
Originally Posted By: bennevis

Please, let's not propagate our own prejudices - especially those based on no medical knowledge whatsoever - and let the OP decide for himself whether he should seek the advice of his physician.


Okay I'll bite here. What exactly are your qualifications?

I'm a trained Social Service Worker. I've working with addictions, elderly, and vulnerable populations (mental illness of serious natures.) That's on top of my own struggles with PTSD and having to use the very services I've provided.

I do absolutely agree that if the OP feels this might be more serious then the average performance anxiety that he/she should seek professional assistance. I also agree that medication can be helpful as long as it's understood it's just a band aid and will not resolve the problem only mask it short term. (which is sometimes exactly what's needed.) I stand by my post that finding the root of the problem and finding the right skills to deal with it are the best approach.

I think the OP is already beginning to figure out what the root problem is. The beginning to any solution.

To the OP: best of luck! I think your on the right path in discovering what will help you the most!


Let's not start getting into animosity. It's pretty obvious what my qualifications are, and what I do.

As for 'getting to the root of the problem', many people get anxiety problems with situations that are artificially created - like playing piano in front of an audience. It's NOT necessarily a deep-rooted problem, that has to be tackled at its 'roots'. (If that was the case, I'd have one too - I can't speak in front of an audience without getting anxious and unable to get words out. And no, I don't need counselling, or the help of any other professional, or Freudian/Jungian psychoanalysis. I just don't want to do public speaking, full stop. I can play the piano in public only because my audiences aren't musicians or critics, so I can play as many wrong notes as I like - otherwise I'd suffer from performance anxiety too).

It's very tempting to project one's own experiences (personal or otherwise) onto others, but sometimes we just need to step back a bit and look at the situation from the other person's point of view, and think laterally, and empathise without being judgmental.
_________________________
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

Top
#2027483 - 02/05/13 02:16 PM Re: Performance anxiety getting progressively worse [Re: Vasilievich]
BeccaBb Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/09/11
Posts: 905
Loc: Thunder Bay, On Canada
LOLOLOLOLOL

The only thing obvious is that you are a member of Piano World.. Too funny
_________________________
Becca
Began: 01-12-11


Floundering and Lost
Roland RD300NX

Top
#2027520 - 02/05/13 03:16 PM Re: Performance anxiety getting progressively worse [Re: Nikolas]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19777
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: Nikolas
....Now, I think that I'll let Mark post....

Thanks for the shout-outs. smile
I usually don't post on such threads for various reasons.

To Vasilievich: I only skimmed the thread so please pardon if this has already been said and discussed (but I didn't readily see it).....

[edit: I see that parts of this have been said]

....My main advice, besides not just leaping to medication (which I say even though working with medications is my main "stock in trade"), is to view this is as a project, a process -- something to be attacked in a very, very gradual way. For the moment, scale back your ambition and start with just simple, limited kinds of 'performing.' Do only very brief performances, like just one piece, in front of just a few people, maybe just one or two -- and much simpler pieces than your actual level. Make it be a piece and a situation where you are SURE to succeed. And then scale it up from there, gradually but surely. Very gradually. Don't take any big leaps of difficulty or complexity of the pieces or programs, or of size or type of audience. If you hit a snag, it means the step was too large, and try to avoid too many steps that fail, because a big principle behind this is becoming accustomed to "success experiences." An occasional "failure" here and there is all right, but many failures would just set you back and perhaps put you back to where you started.

The way I've put it is a simplification but perhaps you can get good ideas from it. And oh....guidance from someone is usually necessary to help you stay on a good track -- perhaps a therapist who knows about such things, but best of all a teacher who knows about such things.

Top
#2027530 - 02/05/13 03:42 PM Re: Performance anxiety getting progressively worse [Re: Vasilievich]
Whizbang Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/27/12
Posts: 760
I discovered beta blockers by accident.

I'm just an amateur, somewhere on the tail of the talent bell curve. I've struggled with public performances since my teen years, during which none of the recitals I gave could be considered successful.

I ceased even considering public performances sometime around high school. Even playing for my teacher was incredibly stressful. I almost ceased playing piano entirely after college.

I self-taught, if you could call it that, for more than a decade, and, yes, I read various online resources about techniques to manage anxiety. I had some trusted friends I could invite over every couple a weeks and play for. This was still nerve-wracking, very error prone, not very musical.

It's very hard to explain--it certainly makes no logical sense. I can play for myself. Heck, I can play in the middle of a crowded room and everything's reasonably okay if I think I'm being ignored. But if one person starts paying attention or if god forbid its actually a performance, my hands turn into slime, a vice slowly tightens in my chest, my arms and shoulders and hands go rigid, I get light-headed, my mind goes blank, a finger-slip causes the piece to hit a wall.

Familiarity did not necessarily breed more comfort. Slogans and mantras don't seem to make much difference.

Then I started having some heart arrhythmias--a family trait--and was prescribed some daily medication.

The next few times my friend came over to listen, I noticed something. I was still nervous, but the crushing vice wasn't there. The clammy palms went away. I could make a mistake but recover.

Next time I went in for a followup, I asked my doctor--"Is... is the medication you prescribed ever given for -anxiety-? I've noticed my piano playing is a lot better." He nodded.

My arrhythmias were mild enough and infrequent enough that I weaned myself off the medication, but I've felt the difference. Sans medication, I still suffer from very bad performance jitters. My audition piece for my current teacher was a piece I'd played hundreds, maybe thousands, of times before--it became a disjointed mess of missed notes and music stoppages. I still suffer probably a 25% or more impairment of performance in front of my teacher (and, unlike OP, I adore my teacher) and a greater degree of impairment in a performance.

As pianists, we talk about building and reinforcing neural pathways through repeated practice. Was sitting on that bench as a teenager, next to my teacher at a lesson or in a recital hall, -fully expecting- to humiliate myself conditioning my brain physiology to react adversely under stressful conditions? Was I just predisposed to react this way under interpersonal pressure?

I don't know the answer, but it does boggle my mind that pianists would champion one aspect of brain plasticity but downplay another.

I personally know exactly how debilitating performance anxiety can be--where every successfully played measure simply ratchets up the mental tension making the next measures even harder to pull off successfully. And I know that, for me at least, the mental techniques combined with intense preparation alone are limited in their ability to reverse the effects.

I'm not on my heart medication right now, but I can sure tell you that I've considered re-upping that prescription... and not for my heart.
_________________________
Whizbang
amateur ragtime pianist

Top
#2027552 - 02/05/13 04:26 PM Re: Performance anxiety getting progressively worse [Re: Whizbang]
Entheo Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/12/04
Posts: 1114
Loc: chicago, il
Originally Posted By: Whizbang
It's very hard to explain--it certainly makes no logical sense. I can play for myself. Heck, I can play in the middle of a crowded room and everything's reasonably okay if I think I'm being ignored. But if one person starts paying attention or if god forbid its actually a performance, my hands turn into slime, a vice slowly tightens in my chest, my arms and shoulders and hands go rigid, I get light-headed, my mind goes blank, a finger-slip causes the piece to hit a wall.


whizbang, excellent post IMHO, and you really put your finger on my experience with the quote above.

i also share your experience with my introduction to inderal. about 2 or 3 years into my adult lessons my teacher had me tackle a beethoven sonata, which i fully memorized and then prior to the recital had some practice runs in front of my teacher. but of course as soon as i began the sonata in front of a room full of people i went blank around the 8th measure, and had to restart a few times until i finally pushed past.

the rest of the performance went well, but it proved quite traumatic for me in light of my preparation and expectations. i developed an arrhythmia subsequently and the doctor prescribed inderal for it. i did not know at the time that it was used prophylactically for musical performance, but once the arrhythmia subsided i saved the rest for performances, and it had quite the positive effect.

another topic that has been discussed here recently, and is related to this one, is performing with the sheet music vs. from memory. it proves to be a wonderful point of focus (vs. staring at your hands and fearing a memory lapse) and as an esteemed teacher once said to me, "there's no shame in using the sheet music." in fact, as emeritus of a renowned university piano faculty, he considers it a waste of time memorizing pieces (likely because so many of us spend all that time only to encounter trouble when all we are focusing on are our heads & hands).
_________________________
diary of an amateur pianist

Top
#2027565 - 02/05/13 04:50 PM Re: Performance anxiety getting progressively worse [Re: Vasilievich]
Hakki Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2560
Vasilievich:

I don't know how you play.

And I am a bit surprised how so many people were able to comment without knowing how you play.(or maybe they do know)

Would you please post an unedited VIDEO of you playing SOMETHING?

Let's SEE how you play while trying to make a public video that will be posted here.

Then we can better understand your situation.
_________________________
Put in one of IMO, I think, to me, for me... or similar to all sentences I post

http://www.youtube.com/user/hakkithepianist

Top
#2027579 - 02/05/13 05:26 PM Re: Performance anxiety getting progressively worse [Re: Hakki]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19342
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Hakki
Vasilievich:

I don't know how you play.

And I am a bit surprised how so many people were able to comment without knowing how you play.(or maybe they do know)

Would you please post an unedited VIDEO of you playing SOMETHING?

Let's SEE how you play while trying to make a public video that will be posted here.

Then we can better understand your situation.
Why would you ask him to potentially embarrass himself in front of the entire PW audience and untold other viewers? If a video showed him playing well without any obvious problems(unlikely) it would be of no help to anyone, and if he plays poorly it could be extremely awkward for him. If he wanted to post a video he would choose to do so by himself.

His detailed verbal descriptions of what happens are IMO more than sufficient and tell us far more than seeing a video. We have a reasonable idea of his performance level and skill when not under pressure because he is preparing to play his graduation recital as a performance major and has played 50 recitals/chamber music concerts. In other words, he is probably better than at least 99% of PW members.


Edited by pianoloverus (02/05/13 05:37 PM)

Top
#2027597 - 02/05/13 05:56 PM Re: Performance anxiety getting progressively worse [Re: Whizbang]
bennevis Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5119
Originally Posted By: Whizbang


It's very hard to explain--it certainly makes no logical sense. I can play for myself. Heck, I can play in the middle of a crowded room and everything's reasonably okay if I think I'm being ignored. But if one person starts paying attention or if god forbid its actually a performance, my hands turn into slime, a vice slowly tightens in my chest, my arms and shoulders and hands go rigid, I get light-headed, my mind goes blank, a finger-slip causes the piece to hit a wall.

Familiarity did not necessarily breed more comfort. Slogans and mantras don't seem to make much difference.



Your story is perfectly logical to me.

My experience of playing in public is quite similar, the only difference being that I don't mind people listening intently to me - as long as I believe that they won't notice if I make mistakes (even if my belief is mistaken). But if I know that someone in the audience is musical enough to realize if I'm fumbling, I'll almost certainly fumble. On one level, it doesn't make sense, but on another, it does. If I speak in public, there's no hiding - everyone in the audience understands perfectly what I'm saying (or more accurately, trying to say....) - which is why I won't do it. (And if I ever have to, I'll take propranolol).

Recently, I made a couple of recordings for a piano showroom's and magazine's websites, playing two pieces I knew inside-out and had in my memory for well over two years. Playing the unfamiliar grand in front of the video camera and microphones wasn't the problem (though it was my first experience of making a professional recording) - it was the presence of three people there involved in the recording that threw me, and I had a memory lapse for the first time in the second piece I played (which is familiar to most pianists). But not the first, which is a novelty; which was the reason I had no trouble playing it perfectly - because I knew that they almost certainly had never heard it before (and I was right).

I started that second piece again from the beginning - and my mind went blank in exactly the same spot. I took a break, put the score on the music rest and went through that trouble spot slowly, wondering whether I should try to play from the score for the next take. But I hadn't played from the score for over two years.....

Then, one of the people sitting at the control desk asked me what the music was, and immediately I was OK again. Because that second piece was obviously unfamiliar to them too, so my anxiety was unfounded: I didn't feel like my playing was under scrutiny anymore.

Yes, it all seems very odd. Why should it make any difference whether the people who are listening to my playing knew the music or not? Well, it mattered hugely to my subconscious.....
_________________________
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

Top
#2027619 - 02/05/13 06:24 PM Re: Performance anxiety getting progressively worse [Re: chickenlump]
Sandra M Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/09/11
Posts: 56
Hello and you stated that a prescription to calm the anxious performer could help and I agree from experience. You are not talking long term addiction just to change the fear into relaxation with medication changing the behavior on the short term. When I became a college student for the first time in my 30's I was so anxious before the first exam and I took a small glass of wine to relax with dinner an hour before the exam. It worked I was so relaxed that I made a 97. I never had to drink wine again before an exam. It got me over the hump as you stated. Sandra M


Edited by Sandra M (02/05/13 06:27 PM)

Top
#2027654 - 02/05/13 07:14 PM Re: Performance anxiety getting progressively worse [Re: Vasilievich]
Sandra M Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/09/11
Posts: 56
You not giving up and looking over and considering all options from us posted in your behalf at Piano World. I admire your powerful positive spirit. Sandra M

Top
#2027726 - 02/05/13 09:22 PM Re: Performance anxiety getting progressively worse [Re: Vasilievich]
Vasilievich Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/04/10
Posts: 90
Lots of good stuff here!
Quote:
I personally know exactly how debilitating performance anxiety can be--where every successfully played measure simply ratchets up the mental tension making the next measures even harder to pull off successfully.

This hits the nail on the head exactly.

Quote:
Yes, it all seems very odd. Why should it make any difference whether the people who are listening to my playing knew the music or not? Well, it mattered hugely to my subconscious.....

Unfortunately I'm not so lucky (?) as I get just as nervous playing for Grandma as I do for a room full of professors, but I do relate with the "paying attention" bit. A few weeks ago when I was practicing an office aide came in to organize music. I decided to use it as an opportunity to test myself and see if I could keep it together while practicing. I was completely fine until a moment where in some way or another I began to think about whether or not she was listening—and not only if she was listening, but what she thought if the piece itself, since it is somewhat unorthodox and dissonant and as a vocalist she had probably never heard it before (Scriabin op.53). In that instant, things immediately began to go wrong and I eventually had to stop and pull out the music. So what was going on in my head actually seems to be two separate inner dialogues—one that doubts I can play a piece, and another that doubts whether the audience would even like it to begin with. The latter probably comes from my years of feeling awkward and being teased in school about listening to classical music and not popular music. To this day if I put on a recording of a classical work while knowingly in earshot of someone else who knows nothing about classical music, my perception of the music changes instantly and I become fixated on what they think of it, usually convincing myself that they probably don't like it.

Quote:
We have a reasonable idea of his performance level and skill when not under pressure because he is preparing to play his graduation recital as a performance major and has played 50 recitals/chamber music concerts. In other words, he is probably better than at least 99% of PW members.

Well I'm not sure that statistic is accurate, but flattering nonetheless. And unfortunately my laptop met it's untimely demise a year ago and I have been unable to replace it as yet, so even if I wanted to upload a new recording, I couldn't at the moment. Anyone is welcome to view the small collection of recordings I have on my YouTube channel —As someone just brought to my attention, several of my recordings have (unwarrented) copyright claims against them by EMI and other labels and have either been taken down or are in the process of being removed. I'm getting really sick of this obsession we have with copyrights and patents in this country...but this is a different rant for a different time and place.


Edited by Vasilievich (02/06/13 01:48 AM)

Top
#2027929 - 02/06/13 07:47 AM Re: Performance anxiety getting progressively worse [Re: Vasilievich]
theJourney Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/22/07
Posts: 3946
Loc: Banned
Originally Posted By: Vasilievich
Lots of good stuff here!
Unfortunately I'm not so lucky (?) as I get just as nervous playing for Grandma as I do for a room full of professors, but I do relate with the "paying attention" bit. A few weeks ago when I was practicing an office aide came in to organize music. I decided to use it as an opportunity to test myself and see if I could keep it together while practicing. I was completely fine until a moment where in some way or another I began to think about whether or not she was listening—and not only if she was listening, but what she thought if the piece itself, since it is somewhat unorthodox and dissonant and as a vocalist she had probably never heard it before (Scriabin op.53). In that instant, things immediately began to go wrong and I eventually had to stop and pull out the music. So what was going on in my head actually seems to be two separate inner dialogues—one that doubts I can play a piece, and another that doubts whether the audience would even like it to begin with. The latter probably comes from my years of feeling awkward and being teased in school about listening to classical music and not popular music. To this day if I put on a recording of a classical work while knowingly in earshot of someone else who knows nothing about classical music, my perception of the music changes instantly and I become fixated on what they think of it, usually convincing myself that they probably don't like it.


For me, playing the piano for others requires a strange combination of intense concentration combined with relaxed letting go of thoughts. The thoughts and dialogs going on in your head sound familiar and are, apparently in both of our experiences, in conflict with performance capability.

I have not studied this thread in depth, so forgive me if I repeat something that was discussed up thread. It would appear to me that you would profit from some kind of practice (not piano practice) such as Zen Buddhism or meditation, perhaps combined with therapy to help you address some of the mentioned unresolved issues, that will empower you to quickly recognize when such counter-productive, interfering thoughts arise within you, allow yourself to name them and then to immediately let them go and then to proceed to lever leave or return to your concentrated but let loose play. Also, focusing on the sound coming out of the piano to the exclusion of all else can be helpful in silencing your internal chatter.

Best of luck to you!

Top
#2028025 - 02/06/13 11:21 AM Re: Performance anxiety getting progressively worse [Re: Vasilievich]
bennevis Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5119
Originally Posted By: Vasilievich
The latter probably comes from my years of feeling awkward and being teased in school about listening to classical music and not popular music. To this day if I put on a recording of a classical work while knowingly in earshot of someone else who knows nothing about classical music, my perception of the music changes instantly and I become fixated on what they think of it, usually convincing myself that they probably don't like it.



I was exposed to this at an early age, when I went to a boarding school. In a dormitory of twelve boys, I'd play BBC Radio 3 on my radio-cassette recorder: Beethoven symphonies and piano sonatas, Handel's Messiah (yes, all three hours of it... grin) etc, while the others had Radio 1's 'Top of the Pops' on their radios. I grew a very thick skin, but the other boys knew I was shy (and probably weird) anyway, and while they were displaying trophies from rugby matches, I was displaying trophies from junior chess tournaments, and spending all my free time playing piano in the Music Department's practice rooms, or in singing practice with the school's Chapel Choir.

Conditioning from childhood definitely helps in this.....

Maybe if I had to give piano recitals to staff and pupils while in school, I wouldn't be suffering from performance anxiety of any sort now - or maybe my nerves would be even worse? Who knows?
_________________________
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

Top
#2028066 - 02/06/13 12:28 PM Re: Performance anxiety getting progressively worse [Re: Vasilievich]
Hakki Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2560
Originally Posted By: Vasilievich
Anyone is welcome to view the small collection of recordings I have on my YouTube channel —As someone just brought to my attention, several of my recordings have (unwarrented) copyright claims against them by EMI and other labels and have either been taken down or are in the process of being removed. I'm getting really sick of this obsession we have with copyrights and patents in this country...but this is a different rant for a different time and place.


OK, I visited your YouTube page. As for the copyright claims at least they are not visible to viewers like me, I didn't notice anything at all. But that is another story.

Anyway, I SAW you playing the Chopin Ballade (last year's video) . I can say that you are stiff. The shoulders, arms, hands, fingers, upper body etc. You try to relax but actually that only seem to distract your concentration, but not a true relaxation occurs.

Therefore, my first advice would be that you consult with your mentors about this state of being relaxed. If necessary attend some Alexander Technique sessions.

Secondly, VIDEO RECORD as much of your performances, practicing sessions etc. But, play simpler pieces (really simple pieces) and watch your self later. See if you are doing unnecessary head/body movements that distract your concentration. If so just try to be as focused as you can but in a very relaxed state as well. That is, you will be conscious of what you are doing in every second of your performance. But your shoulders, arms, wrists, hands all will be very relaxed.
_________________________
Put in one of IMO, I think, to me, for me... or similar to all sentences I post

http://www.youtube.com/user/hakkithepianist

Top
#2028129 - 02/06/13 02:01 PM Re: Performance anxiety getting progressively worse [Re: Hakki]
Vasilievich Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/04/10
Posts: 90
Originally Posted By: Hakki
I SAW you playing the Chopin Ballade (last year's video) . I can say that you are stiff. The shoulders, arms, hands, fingers, upper body etc. You try to relax but actually that only seem to distract your concentration, but not a true relaxation occurs.

With all due respect, I take all advice to change my technique with a grain a salt. Of all the pianists I've met, especially at my current school, (just this semester three people have had to cease their studies due to strain issues) I'm one of the few people I know who has never had any problems with tendonitis, carpal tunnel, back problems, or even noticable physical fatigue (I don't ever feel physically "stiff")—and I also practice much longer than anyone else I've met. That's not to brag or boast or anything, I'm just saying that whatever I'm doing seems to be working for me; I've always been able to play anything I wanted to and never experienced any physical discomfort or strain. You're not the first to comment on this though—my teacher at first assumed I was trying to consciously imitate Horowitz and was angry. Now he realizes it just is how I play and it works for me and has never been an issue since. The performance anxiety problem is something different entirely; in fact, when I begin to panic during a performance I feel as if I am too physically relaxed if anything and no longer have rigid enough motor control—like trying to play with wet noodles.

Quote:
See if you are doing unnecessary head/body movements that distract your concentration. If so just try to be as focused as you can but in a very relaxed state as well. That is, you will be conscious of what you are doing in every second of your performance. But your shoulders, arms, wrists, hands all will be very relaxed.

This is part of the reason why I usually remove the visual feed from my recordings—the issue of body movement and "histrionics" in performance is a touchy subject, and people love to criticize it and tell you how stupid you look. All I can simply attest to is the fact though that any body movements are completely unconscious, and in fact I often am the most physically active with my body when I am completely focused and "in" the music. Thus, it is not a distraction to my playing but rather a symptom of deep concentration. My best performances and recordings all share this in common—a friend of mine used to describe it like a trance I would go into. I have all sorts of amusing anecdotes about it—in a video of one performance there was a very loud crash in the middle of the performance, as someone had actually broken their chair, however I don't recall ever hearing it, and was totally unfazed by it in the recording. In another instance, my dad was actually guilty of leaning on a switch in the classroom the competition was in, turning out the lights for part of the room—again, I was none the wiser. This "trance-like" state is becoming more and more difficult or altogether impossible for me to achieve during performance nowadays as I am so uncomfortably aware of my body, my racing pulse, my involuntary shaking, and my nervous thoughts.

Top
#2028145 - 02/06/13 02:36 PM Re: Performance anxiety getting progressively worse [Re: Vasilievich]
Hakki Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2560
It was just my 2 cents of advice.

Whatever.
Good luck.
_________________________
Put in one of IMO, I think, to me, for me... or similar to all sentences I post

http://www.youtube.com/user/hakkithepianist

Top
#2028197 - 02/06/13 03:51 PM Re: Performance anxiety getting progressively worse [Re: Hakki]
Vasilievich Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/04/10
Posts: 90
Originally Posted By: Hakki
It was just my 2 cents of advice.

Whatever.
Good luck.

Sorry, i was just responding, i.e. having a discussion. Didn't mean for you to take it personally. I appreciate all the comments and advice, as this is obviously not just an issue for me, but other people as well, so even what might not be true or work for me might help someone else.

Top
#2028496 - 02/07/13 02:10 AM Re: Performance anxiety getting progressively worse [Re: Vasilievich]
bolt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/23/09
Posts: 186
Hi Vasilievich

You might want to read about Kava Kava and about GABA

-Bolt
_________________________
"There is more to this piano playing malarkey than meets the eye" - adultpianist

Top
Page 3 of 4 < 1 2 3 4 >

Moderator:  Brendan, Kreisler 
What's Hot!!
HOW TO POST PICTURES on the Piano Forums
-------------------
Sharing is Caring!
About the Buttons
-------------------
Forums Rules & Help
-------------------
ADVERTISE
on Piano World

The world's most popular piano web site.
-------------------
PIANO BOOKS
Interesting books about the piano, pianists, piano history, biographies, memoirs and more!
(ad) HAILUN Pianos
Hailun Pianos - Click for More
ad (Casio)
Celviano by Casio Rebate
Ad (Seiler/Knabe)
Seiler Pianos
Sheet Music
(PW is an affiliate)
Sheet Music Plus Featured Sale
(125ad) Dampp Chaser
Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver
(ad) Lindeblad Piano
Lindeblad Piano Restoration
New Topics - Multiple Forums
Studio monitors for a digital piano
by diegopefm
34 minutes 52 seconds ago
Has anyone tried out wireless USB hubs for software pianos?
by Allan W.
Today at 02:34 AM
What books do you use for teaching beginners?
by Daffodil
Today at 12:54 AM
Help buying digital piano for my son
by roomservicetaco
Yesterday at 11:54 PM
Headphone impedance for DP90se
by lunobili
Yesterday at 10:29 PM
Who's Online
59 registered (36251, bennevis, BearLake, ChoPraTs, BB Player, 12 invisible), 813 Guests and 17 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Forum Stats
76250 Members
42 Forums
157619 Topics
2315166 Posts

Max Online: 15252 @ 03/21/10 11:39 PM
(ads by Google)

Visit our online store for gifts for music lovers

 
Help keep the forums up and running with a donation, any amount is appreciated!
Or by becoming a Subscribing member! Thank-you.
Donate   Subscribe
 
Our Piano Related Classified Ads
|
Dealers | Tuners | Lessons | Movers | Restorations | Pianos For Sale | Sell Your Piano |

Advertise on Piano World
| Subscribe | Piano World | PianoSupplies.com | Advertise on Piano World | Donate | Link to Us | Classifieds |
| |Contact | Privacy | Legal | About Us | Site Map | Free Newsletter | Press Room |


copyright 1997 - 2014 Piano World ® all rights reserved
No part of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission