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#2049611 - 03/17/13 11:07 AM Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture?
Sam S Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/12/07
Posts: 1430
Loc: Georgia, USA
Last Friday was my teacher's studio recital: In a church, nice grand piano, me and 10 children aged from 8 to 18.

All the kids are great players, regardless of age. They play from memory, and rarely make any technical errors. They even play expressively and musically. Amazing really.

Then there is me. The only adult. I go first, to separate me from the kids, who play from youngest to oldest. This places the focus of the recital on the children, which is where it should be, but having the 59 year-old guy go first is a little stressful.

It didn't go well. My Schumann Arabeske was full of errors. My Mendelssohn 38/6 had an huge error right at the climax of the piece.

Looking back over my short career as an adult restarter, I have played in 7 recitals. Of those, I gave an "acceptable" performance at 3 of them. The other 4 ranged from near disasters to just plain bad.

I don't know what I can do to improve my average. Playing in more recitals doesn't seem to help. I feel like I am prepared as much as I can be. The night before this latest recital, I played both pieces as well as I ever had for my teacher.

It is disappointing, so much so that I am thinking of not participating in any more live studio recitals. There is another one in May, where we will be playing pop music - I am not looking forward to it.

I have often thought that a better alternative would be to have an all-adult recital, but my teacher only has one other adult student, and she (wisely?) refuses to play in any recitals. I think that I will ask my teacher if she knows any other teachers with adult students and if they woud be interested in a combined recital.

Of course, even that will probably not help my performances - it may make them worse!

Anyway, thanks for listening to me complain!

Sam

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#2049628 - 03/17/13 11:58 AM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Sam S]
rnaple Offline

Silver Supporter until April 24 2014


Registered: 12/23/10
Posts: 2107
Loc: Rocky Mountains
I feel for ya, Sam.
That's not a great situation. Worrying about all those kids. Taking it for granted their contentious minds. Not good.

I'm fortunate. I have a great teacher over Skype. No recitals.

I ran across a website suggested from this forum. It's called "fossils". It's dedicated to adults learning piano. Is good. Discusses many things we encounter.

Personally....I wouldn't want to do a "recital" unless it was something I really loved and wanted to openly share it.
_________________________
Ron
Your brain is a sponge. Keep it wet. Mary Gae George
The focus of your personal practice is discipline. Not numbers. Scott Sonnon

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#2049645 - 03/17/13 12:31 PM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Sam S]
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19644
Loc: New York City
Were some/most of the problems memory slips or perhaps caused by fear of memory slips?

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#2049647 - 03/17/13 12:35 PM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Sam S]
jotur Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/16/06
Posts: 5659
Loc: Santa Fe, NM
I play a lot of gigs. 4x a month for seniors, maybe 7 or 8 times a year with the band. I don't think I'd do recitals.

For me, music is community music, something to share. Something where the audience is on a par with the musician. It doesn't feel like a "performance". I think there are people who approach recitals that way. I'm not one of them laugh The word "recital" invokes feelings of a teacher showing off her students. I know that parents want to see their children play, and I think that's legitimate. But it doesn't feel like sharing music to me.

The closest I come to a "recital" is a music marathon where there are numerous musicians, mostly piano players, in an afternoon-to-evening recital (if you will) that's a benefit for scholarships at a branch of a college. The audience comes and goes as they please. That still feels close enough to being community music to me that I like playing it.

How did you feel about playing at your musicians/neighbors party? That would be more like my kind of music event. Live music as part of the community. The Denver piano parties are like that, and it sounds like the Arizona one was. The on-line ABF recitals have that feel, rather than a "recital" in the formal sense of the word.

It may be that you're simply in a place in your life where sharing your music, which I think you like to do since you also play with Laurie, plays a different function for you than a recital does. Maybe for you sharing your music is no longer about showing people what you can do, and more about everyone in the room being there for participation, even if they don't play smile

Just a thought. But it's the way I play.

I'm off to the Alzheimers unit in a couple of hours, as matter of fact. The music is a highlight of their day. And I get to play smile

Cathy
_________________________

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#2049654 - 03/17/13 12:44 PM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Sam S]
Piano Again Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/12/04
Posts: 1162
Loc: Washington metro
Seven recitals isn't very many. Don't be so hard on yourself. You have a 40% success rate!

Also, why not just use the music? Memorize, yes, but then try going back and forth between playing with the score and playing without -- you will see where the weak spots are, and probably why they are weak. There are a million ways to practice and work on this. You may find over time that it gets better.

I am in a group aimed at giving adults opportunities to perform,* and almost all of the people use the music when they play. There's nothing wrong with doing so, though I know how it is -- I, too, wish I could play comfortably from memory. I can do it if I put my mind to it, but it doesn't feel natural (on the piano, at least).

Sometimes I feel happy about how I've played and then listen to the recording and feel very frustrated at how it sounded.

But you know, if it was TOO easy, what would be fun about it?

*The Adult Music Student Forum, which was started years ago by the "fossils" guy rnaple mentioned just above -- who also happens to be my teacher right now.
_________________________
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#2049659 - 03/17/13 12:58 PM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Sam S]
Saranoya Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/13
Posts: 632
Loc: Brussels, Belgium
The in-class recitals we do with my teacher are adult students only. You're right, it doesn't help the nervousness much, but at least everyone else is just as nervous and hyper-aware as you are! So I think it's a good idea to try to find a teacher who might be interested in a shared recital with their adult students.

Or you could just find other ways to share your music. As long as you enjoy playing the piano just for the sake of it, I don't think you *have* to do recitals. It's not as if you are a conservatory-bound fifteen-year-old. You pave your own way. Decide for yourself what you do and don't want to do. And when something no longer seems worth your time, just stop doing it.

Last week, my teacher offered me the option of pulling out of the upcoming class recital, planned for March 29. I've been going through a rough patch on multiple fronts lately, and she said "there are others with good reasons who chose not to do this recital." I plan on telling her I will be doing the recital anyway. There are always a hundred good reasons not to do it. But for me, there is one reason to do it that trumps all the rest: I started taking lessons specifically because I wanted to get over my stage freight. If I now start pulling out of performance moments every time the opportunity to do so presents itself, I will be undermining my own goal.

So for me, participation, in and of itself, is enough of a goal. I don't really care how well I do, although in reality, I am of course hoping it will be wonderful. But I think you must have something similar: a core motivation to either do it, or not. The answer could easily be 'not', if the reasons you are taking lessons have nothing whatsoever to do with performing in front of other people. But if you do have a core reason to do it, and you can identify that reason, then that might allow you to focus on the micro-goal, and forget about the rest (the children who surround you, the audience, the general quality of your performance, ...). And I think that might even make it easier to play better at these things!
_________________________
Beginner with some priors since 9/2012

Currently Playable
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Beethoven 27/2 mvt. 1
Burgmüller 100/3, 4, 7, 12, 15, 19, 25
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Tchaikovsky 39/9

Future
Burgmüller 109
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#2049676 - 03/17/13 01:23 PM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Sam S]
fifi m Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 02/19/13
Posts: 16
Oh, be careful. If this keeps up you could develop a real aversion to performing, which would be a shame.

When preparing for the next recital, make sure you run though your pieces in front of an audience. Not your teacher - grab family, friends, whoever, and ask them listen to you play. Not to give feedback, just listen. Performance brings up a special type of nerves that can send the most well-rehearsed piece awry. It sounds like it's performing itself, rather than the playing, that's causing problems. Get used to playing your pieces to people, and it will make getting up on stage much less daunting.

Also, meditate. If meditation doesn't float your boat, just breathe - before you perform and, more importantly, while you're playing. When I perform I have tendency to hold my breath. It doesn't help at all. Noticing this and remembering to breathe will help you relax, which will in turn help your playing.

Finally - don't compare yourself to the kids. So, you made some mistakes - so what? It is what it is. You have strengths in your playing they don't have, and vice versa. Just focus on yourself, and when reviewing your performance afterwards be analytical rather than self critical. It's so easy to focus on the errors, but try to think about the sweet spots too.

Believe me, it does get better with time and experience. I speak as someone who has had some absolute performance shockers - we all have off days!

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#2049746 - 03/17/13 03:38 PM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Sam S]
torquenale Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/29/12
Posts: 368
Loc: Italy
Sam, first of all I really admire you because of your decision to play - only adult - in a children recital. I am in the same position, I was offered to participate in the June recital, all the other students being children aged 7 to 15. My children are both in, the younger doesn't like to play in public, last year was scared.
So far, I only agree to play a duet with my elder son.
Saranoya told me to go also for a solo piece, and she has good arguments. My teacher told me that, until I don't make faces, people in the public don't hear errors, they are only waiting for their children to play; maybe it was the same for you, they were not so careful - and for sure they forgot your performance in five minutes.
We'll see... I would like to learn to play in public and I know that I should grab the possibility!

Consider that, even if you made mistakes, you have really polished your pieces, and that thanks to the recital! thay will stay with for a long time...
_________________________



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#2049758 - 03/17/13 04:00 PM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Sam S]
newest student Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/26/12
Posts: 23
Loc: Eastern PA
Hi Sam!

My teacher has a recital each spring for her students(mostly children and teenagers), and she also has them enter an assessment with the Piano Teacher's Guild, where their skills are assessed. Each student is expected to play pieces from memory, as well as demonstrate skills, like playing scales.

I have only taken lessons since last September, knew absolutely nada about music when I began, and have just worked worked through two thirds of Alfred's Book 1. For those reasons, I have chosen to forgo participation in these events this spring, mainly because I would prefer to spend my time increasing my skills, as opposed to memorization. I have started memorizing a few pieces, and find it terribly time consuming for me.

That being said, I have no objection to my participation in these events in the future(read that next year). I certainly would appreciate an independent evaluation of my skills in the Guild assessment. And I've already spoken to a very accomplished friend, and we may decide to perform a duet for fun during the recital. But as a mature adult, I certainly feel as though its my choice to participate, or not, depending on my desires at the time.

I dont know if that helps at all, but as many others on this forum have said, enjoy the journey, and have fun!!

Bruce

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#2049760 - 03/17/13 04:01 PM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Sam S]
Mr Super-Hunky Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 4269
Loc: Arizona.
Sam, please re-read a quote from your post.

"It is disappointing, so much so that I am thinking of not participating in any more live studio recitals. There is another one in May, where we will be playing pop music - I am not looking forward to it."

And now read a quote from Joturs reply

"I'm off to the Alzheimers unit in a couple of hours, as matter of fact. The music is a highlight of their day. And I get to play"

And now recite this cliche..." Attitude is everything"!

Don't forget the saying "Two steps forward, one step back". It seems you are having a 'back' moment and that is perfectly normal. If playing piano was so easy, EVERYONE could do it and it really wouldn't be so special anymore. I know you have the talent and can tell by your performances how hard you are trying at every single detail. Sometimes I wonder if you are not trying too hard!

My suggestion is too take the self imposed stress levels down a notch and start enjoying yourself. Playing piano is supposed to be fun and a stress reliever. Not the opposite.

There is a reason why I go out of my way to tell people how much I don't know because I really don't. I think you know that. But at the same time, I truly love playing piano every single day because I just play for pure joy. No scales to practice, no method books, no sightreading, nothing. Not a damn thing. I just sit down and play. and love it. Eight years now and counting.

What is your piano mission statement? Is it to frustrate yourself causing all kinds of self imposed stress? or is it to play for pure enjoyment and relaxation? Actually, no need to answer that as you already did.

Bottom line: Play for pure enjoyment and relaxation. Why?, because you will enjoy it more and as a result get even better because you will be motivated for the right reasons. Not guilt.

You certainly have the ability and work ethic. I think you just need an attitude adjustment. Re-read Cathys reply one more time just for the heck of it.

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#2049770 - 03/17/13 04:30 PM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Sam S]
ClsscLib Online   content

Platinum Supporter until Jan 02 2013


Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 1835
Loc: Northern VA, U.S.
Sam, I can really identify.

I'm a 60-year-old adult beginner, playing now for 16 months or so, and I played at my teacher's recital -- my first -- in December. Complete disaster. Lost my place in pieces that are normally well memorized, forgot fingerings, nearly hyperventilated. Similar setting -- 20 or so students and their parents, and I was the only one playing who was old enough to buy a drink. Afterwards, I needed one. (I think I'd have preferred going first, but that slot went to her scholarship piano student, who did a nice job with Claire de Lune and some other sophisticated music, well and truly intimidating some of us who had to play much later.)

My teacher just told me that she is scheduling another recital for May, and I'm thinking of opting out.

I recognize the need to develop a comfort level playing for others, but I don't think doing this recital is the right path for me.

First, having had the experience of the last recital, I know that a good part of my lessons for the next 8 weeks would be prepping for the recital rather than working on the things I should be working on.

Second, I've found other (and for me, I think better) ways of playing for others. In particular, I recently joined an area group of amateur musicians (of whom I'm the youngest!) who meet once a month and play for each other their "works in progress." It's utterly non-competitive, completely supportive. I won't say that I haven't had some nerve issues in that group, but nothing like what I had at the December recital.

I'm also headed to Summerkeys for the first time this year, and I hope it will be yet another experience to share music in a comfortable and unstilted atmosphere.

At my age, I think I've earned the right to decide what I want to get out of music. Playing a formal recital among a group of kids and their parents -- none of whom I know -- just isn't that high on my list. I want every minute I spend at the piano to be enjoyable, and unless I can re-orient my attitude to one of enjoying this recital setting (and I don't think I can or will), I'm inclined to skip it.
_________________________


"People may say I can't sing, but no one can ever say I didn't sing."

-- Florence Foster Jenkins

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#2049783 - 03/17/13 04:49 PM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Sam S]
Starr Keys Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/07/09
Posts: 1010
Loc: california
Sam S, please do not give up performing in public recitals. I am dealing with the same issue now and am also in my fifties.

In my performance class at the community college, we are required to perform in two public concerts, which is extra stressful because they are largely attended by music majors in a large lecture hall. If it makes you feel any better several of the adult students in the class, some of whom are advanced and even give pianos lessons for a living, get so nervous that their hands shake and they have to stop and start. My teacher has addressed this issue by recommending and doing exercises from a book entitled Waking the Tiger by Peter Levine, a ground breaking book for trauma suffers and anyone who suffers from anxiety and debilitating nervousness in an area where they'd like to have more control. Its ground breaking because it studies the way animals in predatory scenarios deal with fear and compares it to the way humans do, showing how humans can learn to be more like animals who do not retain any trace of the experience in their bodies but completely let it go.

I am also performing the same piece at another recital for a private voice teacher and I do think the idea of finding a teacher who has separate recitals for her child and adult students is a good one. My voice teacher, who gives piano lessons too and has combined voice and piano recitals, has three recitals a year and only one of them combines adults and children. Since most teachers don't have more than one recital a year, two is plenty for me and most of the students who study with her.

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#2049805 - 03/17/13 05:12 PM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Sam S]
TheodorN Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/16/10
Posts: 1221
Loc: Skåne, Sweden
I know this feeling. I have never been to a live recital, but I'm a student in the University, where most of the students are 25 years younger than me.

It has actually been no problem, the younge students are very nice to me and never call me the oldie. Except one time I remember, but it was meant in a nice way.

Still, I don't understand why you studying with kids that young. Is there no adult learner's school, or even one with 20+ year olds?
_________________________
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#2049833 - 03/17/13 06:06 PM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Sam S]
Amaruk Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/02/11
Posts: 813
Loc: New England, USA
Sam, I am impressed that you participate in these events in the first place!

As has been said, just try to enjoy it and I think you will feel more relaxed. smile
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#2049846 - 03/17/13 06:32 PM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Sam S]
BillM Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/12/08
Posts: 1520
Loc: Maryland
Originally Posted By: Sam S
me and 10 children


I dunno - while I also admire you for participating in this and sharing your always enjoyable piano playing, it seems like it might be a no win situation to me.

_________________________
BillM (formerly b528nf7)
Roland KR-17M
Clavinova CLP-150
Piano Vocals of Old Guy Tunes

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#2049850 - 03/17/13 06:37 PM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Sam S]
Sam S Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/12/07
Posts: 1430
Loc: Georgia, USA
Thanks everyone for the kind replies. In answer to some of the questions:

I don't play from memory. I tried that in preparation for the first recital and it did not work for me - so I have always used the music. So I can't really blame memory slips - except that the music is complex and I have the difficult parts memorized, even though I do have the music in front of me.

I wish there was a group of adults near me that I could play with. I have searched and found nothing.

My best performances were the first time I went to Summerkeys, a music party that I had at home, and a living room concert at my teacher's house. So there is no real pattern for when I am successful.

I love playing the classical piano repertoire. There is just something about it that is very satisfying, much more so than the popular music for me. And it's tough to learn without a teacher, so I don't think I will stop the lessons.

I am going to Summerkeys again this summer, so I will play there again. So far I am 50/50 with those recitals - maybe I can improve my average.

Sam

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#2049871 - 03/17/13 07:12 PM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Sam S]
zillybug Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/11/11
Posts: 136
Loc: USA
Hi Sam,
You are a really good pianist. I have listened to some of your playing on this site. I admire you for being willing to play in a recital where you are the only adult. Where I take lessons, we have a end of the year event that they call a gathering rather than a recital just for the adult students. However, the first year after only having returned to the piano for 4 months, I was a nervous wreck at the thought of playing in front of 25 other adult students and 5 teachers. It's been a little over 2 years now and while I don't think it is anything that I will ever truly enjoy, it has gotten a little easier. I see that you and Classiclib are going to Summerkeys this year. My best experience playing in front of others was also at Summerkeys. It was jut so relaxed up there. I am going the last week in June. I purposefully go then since it is not crowded and there will be less people in the audience. I see they are adding violin and viola in June this year so there may be more students. I am not ready yet to go in July or august when I have heard that the church is packed.
when are you both going? I am going with a friend this year who just started taking lessons again this month. I can't wait to go.

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#2049879 - 03/17/13 07:24 PM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: zillybug]
Sam S Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/12/07
Posts: 1430
Loc: Georgia, USA
Originally Posted By: zillybug
Hi Sam,
I see that you and Classiclib are going to Summerkeys this year. My best experience playing in front of others was also at Summerkeys. It was jut so relaxed up there. I am going the last week in June. I purposefully go then since it is not crowded and there will be less people in the audience. I see they are adding violin and viola in June this year so there may be more students. I am not ready yet to go in July or august when I have heard that the church is packed.
when are you both going? I am going with a friend this year who just started taking lessons again this month. I can't wait to go.


I've been to Summerkeys twice, both times the 3rd week in July - yes the recital was packed.

This year I'm going the very first week, the 3rd week in June, because I have other commitments in July. It will be interesting to see the difference.

There's another PW member going too - FarmGirl, I think in August.

Sam

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#2049891 - 03/17/13 07:42 PM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Sam S]
Starr Keys Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/07/09
Posts: 1010
Loc: california
Sam, I agree that you are a very good amateur classical pianist. One of the older students (late fifties) in my class mentioned an organization (I cant remember if it was state or national) that offered amateur players the opportunity to perform in quarterly recitals. We're on spring break right now, so I cant ask her the name, but I found this one for classical pianists.

http://www.amsfperform.org/performance.html

Perhaps there is something like it in your area. If you're interested, I'd just google amateur pianists performance opportunities and the nearest city in your area to find out.


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#2049914 - 03/17/13 08:21 PM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Sam S]
WiseBuff Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/03/05
Posts: 822
Loc: Brighton Colorado
Originally Posted By: Sam S
[quote=zillybug] I've been to Summerkeys twice, both times the 3rd week in July - yes the recital was packed.

There's another PW member going too - FarmGirl, I think in August.

Sam


Me too...me too. I'm going to Summerkeys First week in July.
This discussion tells us so much about experience, self-perception and attitude. Jotur, your vibrant relationship with the piano is such a pleasure to experiece.
Sam, Being the only adult in a "recital" just sets up all sorts of pitfalls. I can't even watch the youtube videos of the 8 year playing some piece that I struggle with. We have to focus on sharing our love of music and let go of the feeling of being judged (i.e. recital). My teacher has many adult students and we play twice or three times a year with each other. The newest students are still shaky and nervous. I'm less so but it's still there. Ah...self criticism when will you leave me?


Edited by WiseBuff (03/17/13 08:22 PM)
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#2049969 - 03/17/13 11:02 PM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Sam S]
ChopinAddict Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/09
Posts: 6160
Loc: Land of the never-ending music
I think you should try to overcome your fear of the kids or feeling that they are better.
If you overcome this fear you will perform better at public recitals and once the ice is broken it will get easier and easier.
You are yourself, Sam, and you perform as Sam, and people will love you as big Sam instead of little Bob (just a random name).
_________________________



Music is my best friend.


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#2050014 - 03/18/13 02:13 AM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Sam S]
Spacetone Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/16/13
Posts: 16
Loc: CA
Hey man, just keep trying your best! I feel that maybe you psyche yourself out a bit when performing? Maybe you think "crap I better not mess up or they'll think the kids are way better than me. Lol or something like that? You say you have the difficult parts memorized? That's good! Very smart. Also, before performing boost your confidence with a "idgaf what they'll think about my playing. If I messed whatever, I'll try my best next time. I'm not going to die from a technical error. Psh!" It works for me. Also, just imagine you're completely alone when playing don't think about or look at the audience when playing. It's easier said than done, but once you feel "alone and intimate on stage" you'll start giving great performances!

Best of luck to you!

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#2050028 - 03/18/13 02:49 AM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Spacetone]
Charles Cohen Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/12
Posts: 1539
Loc: Richmond, BC, Canada
Having read the thread (quickly), I have a question for the OP, reflecting his question back:

. . . Sam, why _do_ you put yourself through this?

A "recital" is a funny kind of event. It combines elements of:

a demonstration of skill,

a comparison with other people,

a performance -- "Here's something I hope you enjoy"

a teacher-pleasing exercise,

an opportunity to get used to playing in front of other people,

a rite of passage.

So which aspects do you enjoy? Which do you not enjoy? Which are frightening?

And, is the balance worthwhile _for you_ ?

If you say:

. . . Teacher, I don't want to participate --
. . . it gives me more angst that I can handle.

how do you _expect_ Teacher will react?

Where I'm coming from:

My singing teacher doesn't have recitals. She does run a small choir (largely composed of her adult students), and we sing occasionally at old-age homes, "care homes", and so on. Nobody's trying to prove anything, and we have a good time, along with the audience. It's a very low-pressure situation.

I'm also "in the band" -- as a hand-drummer and singer -- for a local chant group. I'm improving as a singer, and my rule for drumming is simple:

. . . I only play rhythms which are well within my capabilities.

We perform monthly, and our _only_ goal is to encourage our (participating) audience to have a good experience. We do OK with that.

This summer, I may join a choir that requires an audition. I haven't done anything like that for decades, and it'll be interesting to see how I react to it.

. Charles

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#2050049 - 03/18/13 03:55 AM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Sam S]
FarmGirl Online   content

Silver Supporter until Jan 02 2013


Registered: 09/14/10
Posts: 2036
Loc: Scottsdale, AZ
Sam - don't give up performing in front of others. I agree that playing in kids only recitals is tough. I've done that for every year until last year. I used to think I am not made for public performance. I moved to a new teacher who teaches at a community college which put me in the situation having to play on stage every week. Nothing like doing it many times. After a couple of months, I got used to playing through a piece in front of others. It does not mean that my fingers won't shake. They do, of cousre. I'm on the stage with half cooked piece. But I learned to control the shaking fingers and a couple of strategies how to cover up mistakes. My teacher told me that my experience is very common. Without adequte performance practice, it's not easy to perform to your satisfaction in occasional recitals. I'm only doing this once in a week, but the performance class is held twice in a week. Can you imagine how good you get if you can attend all those classes. If there's a community college nearby, do consider taking similar course. If its not available, create opportunities for yourself. I play whenever I can find my victim. Cleaning ladies, handyman and every guest in my house have to endure my piano. The moment they say, "you have a grand piano", I say "would u like to hear what sounds like?". Without waiting their answer, i just walk over & play. I suggest doing it like a real recital - without stopping play through a piece. Mark the spot where you made mistakes, memory problem etc and fix them in your practice. Good luck.

Yes I'm going to Summer Key in August. I signed up for the two piano section. I am preparing to play this (Mozart piece) at tempo for the school. This would be interesting experience performance wise since its much more difficult to read under pressure (for me anyway), let alone I have to learn to play with other individual.
_________________________
Solo - Rachmaninoff Elegie Op 3 #1, Schumann Op 12 Warum, Grillen and a few short pieces by various composers
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#2050053 - 03/18/13 04:10 AM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Sam S]
casinitaly Offline


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Registered: 03/01/10
Posts: 5304
Loc: Italy
You've had so much feedback, mine is probably redundant...but I have to say that I would be extremely reluctant to play in a recital with a bunch of kids. (I will possibly have this dubious "opportunity" at the end of this school year)....

I do know that performing is like public speaking - the more you do it, the better you get.

I think - as others have suggested- that it would be great for you to find another venue. What about trying a piano shop and seeing if you can connect with other adult learners? Or a local music school?
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Everything's too hard until you make it easy. Follow your teacher's instructions and practice wisely/much, and you'll soon wonder how you ever found it hard ;)-BobPickle
Performance anxiety: make it part of your daily routine and deal with it...Cope! zrtf90

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#2050115 - 03/18/13 08:27 AM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Sam S]
PianoStudent88 Offline
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Registered: 06/16/11
Posts: 3206
Loc: Maine
You could form your own adult performance group, by getting in touch with the teachers in your town and inviting their adult students. It might be useful to work through the local music teachers association.

Also, I would challenge your belief that there's something undesirable about playing with kids. You're all people playing the piano.
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#2050125 - 03/18/13 08:45 AM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: casinitaly]
Ragdoll Offline
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Registered: 11/03/12
Posts: 698
Loc: Illinois
Quote:
You've had so much feedback, mine is probably redundant...but I have to say that I would be extremely reluctant to play in a recital with a bunch of kids.


I have poured over this thread because I recently decided to drop out of anymore recitals like these (lone adult in a class of kids from 5 to 18). I do enjoy playing for others but these recitals leave me drained and POed because.

1. They are too long, usually 2 hours.
2. I don't believe they're scheduled well.
3. A lot of students are woefully unprepared to play and spend unbearably long times finding their music in their book(s) while at the bench.
4. This may sound snarky but see #1, instead of playing their 20-30 second pieces at one sitting we play one piece at a time in rotation and this wears on me. help because we are required to stay for the entire recital. Each playing 3 to 5 pieces!

Now that said, I think it's great to see these children learning piano but sitting recitals with them is just becoming unbearable for me. Still some of the youngsters play quite well and blow me away with their talent at piano. I just suppose being young they have more patience to sit through it better than I'm able to muster.

As I have stated before, at this stage of my life, if it's not fun for me I'm out. Just cranky I guess, "YOU KIDS GET OFF MY GRASS" grin
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#2050137 - 03/18/13 09:07 AM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Sam S]
Roger Ransom Offline
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Registered: 01/19/05
Posts: 1290
Loc: SouthWest Michigan
Scary recitals were one of the reasons I quit lessons when I was a teenager. I would never subject myself to them again. I, personally don't see the value. Others opinions obviously differ.

I have since learned to enjoy playing for other people but it's always a low stress situation (like background music or a nursing home etc.) and it's always on my terms.
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#2050170 - 03/18/13 10:39 AM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: PianoStudent88]
FarmGirl Online   content

Silver Supporter until Jan 02 2013


Registered: 09/14/10
Posts: 2036
Loc: Scottsdale, AZ
Originally Posted By: PianoStudent88
You could form your own adult performance group, by getting in touch with the teachers in your town and inviting their adult students. It might be useful to work through the local music teachers association.

Also, I would challenge your belief that there's something undesirable about playing with kids. You're all people playing the piano.


+1
Nothing like getting together with other adults. They all understand your feeling. In my piano party, everyone started out with a long speech why he or she may not perform well. We all played good but it was almost comical to see everyone gave sumilar speeches. No kids do that. Also everyone was very warm and encouraging. Not like kids - they can be cruel. They don't mean to be but they cannot understand life and it's toll.
_________________________
Solo - Rachmaninoff Elegie Op 3 #1, Schumann Op 12 Warum, Grillen and a few short pieces by various composers
Collaboration - Concerto in C for Oboe and orchestra attributed to Haydn edited by Evelyn Rosewell and some duets


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#2050190 - 03/18/13 11:12 AM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: FarmGirl]
Starr Keys Offline
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Registered: 09/07/09
Posts: 1010
Loc: california
Originally Posted By: Farmgirl
I moved to a new teacher who teaches at a community college which put me in the situation having to play on stage every week. Nothing like doing it many times. After a couple of months, I got used to playing through a piece in front of others. Nothing like getting together with other adults. They all understand your feeling.


+1. The community college performance class I'm taking has also proven to be a great transition vehicle from playing in front of a camera to playing in front of a live audience. We are required to play at least once a month in class for works in progress, but are invited to play more often, and are required to participate in two public recitals that draw a significantly larger audience. About half of the students are my age or a little younger or older and seem to be experiencing the same issues with nerves, and everyone is very supportive and patient. It does get easier under these circumstances.

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#2050193 - 03/18/13 11:22 AM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Ragdoll]
Piano Again Offline
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Registered: 08/12/04
Posts: 1162
Loc: Washington metro
Ragdoll -- boy, do I hate those types of recitals! I had a friend who taught violin and did these horrible marathon recitals once a year -- they were something like 3 hours long and sheer torture. I had to sit through one of them once because I was accompanying some of the students. It is so unnecessary to set them up that way.
_________________________
Recovering cellist, amateur pianist.


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#2050209 - 03/18/13 12:07 PM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Sam S]
Louis Podesta Offline
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Registered: 02/05/13
Posts: 780
I am 61, and am now very advanced. Thirty years ago, when I finished my degree I wasn't.

So, three things are worth mentioning. 1) I always write out the harmony of my music above the staff for each chord, and then I memorize it harmonically. It is called knowing your music. If you have a temporary slip, you always know where you are, and can recover without a problem.

2) I have low level Parkinson's Disease and I cratered on my first senior jury. Senior juries are ten times the stress level associated with a student recital.

I shared my story with a fellow student, who went on to win the Naumberg Competition and have a successful concert career. He suggested that I take Inderal to help calm myself down before a performance.

He said that all of musicians in Europe take it, and it is not a narcotic. All it does is to basically slow down your adrenal glands which is what starts you to get nervous in the first place, and it does not cloud your head or effect your memory.

Well, I took his advice and actually started to chuckle in the middle of my Bartok selection, when I was playing my jury. I could not get nervous, and that monkey was off my back forever.

If you want a permanent solution, I recommend Neurofeedback from a PhD. psychologist, which is what I have done since then.

For now, learn your music, get an Rx for Inderal(propranalol), which is cheap, and enjoy yourself.

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#2050248 - 03/18/13 01:25 PM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Sam S]
Sam S Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/12/07
Posts: 1430
Loc: Georgia, USA
Thanks, everyone for the suggestions and for sharing your own experiences. I see I am not alone.

I have a lesson tonight, and will discuss this with my teacher - maybe we can come up with something...

Sam

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#2050270 - 03/18/13 02:19 PM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Sam S]
Starr Keys Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/07/09
Posts: 1010
Loc: california
Originally Posted By: Sam S
Thanks, everyone for the suggestions and for sharing your own experiences. I see I am not alone.

I have a lesson tonight, and will discuss this with my teacher - maybe we can come up with something...


That's good. Please let us know what her response is.

I just had one other thought in response to the last post before yours, which might be important, especially to those who might not want to mess with the natural functioning of their adrenal glands, even through non-narcotic means. smile

Originally Posted By: Louis Podesta
I always write out the harmony of my music above the staff for each chord, and then I memorize it harmonically. It is called knowing your music. If you have a temporary slip, you always know where you are, and can recover without a problem.


My college teacher recommended this as well. Students complain about their fingers forgetting a pattern the day before or of the recital even though they've practiced forever and never had it happen till then. He says that if muscle memory fails, you can fall back on a knowledge of chord structure which helps you remember the pattern, but even if you don't remember the pattern you can improvise something close within the harmonic structure. If both these fail, you should also have the auditory skill to fall back on which come with focusing on ear training via an understanding of the intervals within the harmonic structure, You need all three, he says, and they all work together in insuring against nervousness ruining your performance, and having the confidence to play your best.



Edited by Starr Keys (03/18/13 02:27 PM)

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#2050285 - 03/18/13 02:42 PM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Starr Keys]
Louis Podesta Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/05/13
Posts: 780
Thanks for your comment. It should be noted that one of the specific conditions Inderal is cleared for by the FDA is the treatment of "stage fright." However, it should only be used, if necessary, just for a performance, and not on a long term basis unless recommended for another reason such as mild hypertension or rapid heartbeat.

Secondly, my friend Dan Peak of the University of North Texas played the Prokoviev 1st Concerto in afternoon recital when I was in school with him in 1971. When he finished, the place went nuts. It is the best I have ever heard it played.

When I complimented him on his performance later, he said: "and yeah, on top of everything else, I forgot the whole last page." He then went on to say that he always memorized the harmony for all of his pieces, and that he just played the octave chord progression.

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#2050288 - 03/18/13 02:54 PM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Sam S]
JimF Offline
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Registered: 10/08/09
Posts: 1828
Loc: south florida
Sam, I don't really have anything unique to add, except to give a +1 to the idea of tying to find some other adult students to have an adult "social recital."

Like you, I've had to play in kid recitals every year... thank god there are at least a couple of other adult students, although at 60 I'm the oldest by 15 years. Still had a complete trainwreck my first year. For me, it isn't the presence of the kids that throws me so much as their parents, grandparents, etc.

Last year went better. I am convinced it is because the week before I hosted an "adults only practice recital" at my house. Somehow having already played (and screwed up a bit) in front of the other adult students helped me feel less nervous and out of control at the actual event.

When I think about why I subject myself to the recitals in the first place only two things come to mind.
First, my teacher once said something that I thought sounded quite true...."it would be a shame to learn how to play the piano and then never be able to share it with other people" Second, I personally just hate the thought that fear of failure would control my decision to play or not. Somehow, the failure itself would seem less bad to me than just not doing it out of fear. But that's just me and should not apply to all people.

I'm sure you've also heard all of these, which I also think are true.

- its unlikely anyone knows the music as well as you, hence many mistakes the audience just doesn't hear as wrong.

- you will never face a more forgiving audience than at your recital, they really want you to succeed.

- learning to bring a piece up to performance standard is a skill in inself that we learn over time....the recitals tell us when we have succeed in doing so, or when not. Both are useful inputs.
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#2050329 - 03/18/13 04:26 PM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Sam S]
Bobpickle Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014


Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1383
Loc: Cameron Park, California
As Louis suggested, beta blockers, as they're called, are non-addictive (as confirmed by a familiar board-certified addiction medicine specialist) prescriptions that significantly help with this. As Farmgirl stated, performing at any and every opportunity is the best solution so that there's little [nervousness] effect experienced (I can't imagine there's ever none) when asked to perform.

We're the same in that we enjoy sharing music, but don't have ample opportunity to practice performing and so when the time comes around, we get nervous and don't do our best. I imagine that there's an always-moving line that must be - and stay - crossed by performing often to be able to perform consistently as well as you know you're capable. Until this line is able to be - and stay - crossed, I would highly recommend looking into beta blockers. It's obviously no big deal either way, but see if you can work to better enjoy performing, regardless of the circumstances. Ironically enough, as I'm sure you've read several times here, people who throw all concern of how their performance will be out the window before or during said performance almost always do better ("better" being relative, of course) than people like us who worry far too much about pleasing the audience with a good show. I think the ultimate performance is one in which the performer lets go and detaches themselves to the point that it makes absolutely no difference whether there's an audience or not (I believe Arthur Rubinstein also said something to this effect).


Sorry to post so much, but I got carried away!


Edited by Bobpickle (03/18/13 04:26 PM)

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#2050334 - 03/18/13 04:36 PM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Louis Podesta]
Starr Keys Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/07/09
Posts: 1010
Loc: california
Originally Posted By: Louis Podesta
Thanks for your comment.
Secondly, my friend Dan Peak of the University of North Texas played the Prokoviev 1st Concerto in afternoon recital when I was in school with him in 1971. When he finished, the place went nuts. It is the best I have ever heard it played.

When I complimented him on his performance later, he said: "and yeah, on top of everything else, I forgot the whole last page." He then went on to say that he always memorized the harmony for all of his pieces, and that he just played the octave chord progression.


You're more than welcome. Thanks for your story proving my point. smile

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#2050411 - 03/18/13 06:57 PM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Sam S]
Chris H. Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 2919
Loc: UK.
I may not be an adult beginner but this is a question I have asked myself many times over the years. Having given many recitals in the past I can honestly say that I always found it uncomfortable and never got over the fear and anxiety. I put myself through it over and over in an attempt to conquer my fears but nothing worked. Other people used to describe the buzz they would get from performing but I never had that experience.

I don't know why I subjected myself to that torture.

Unless you really want to perform and feel good about it then there is no reason for you to battle this. Medication or psychology might help but what's the point?

It's okay not to give public recitals in this way. And I think that being the only adult amongst all those kids is making it even worse for you.

As a teacher I have plenty of students who enjoy performing and others that don't. I never push them. What I do try and do is find other ways in which they can share and enjoy their music in exactly the same way I do. I play loads of gigs providing background music, I accompany choirs and soloists and I play in quite a few ensembles. I also record, write and arrange music regularly. None of this involves getting up on stage by myself and giving concerts in front of loads of people. It's just not my bag and I'm happy now that I have come to terms with that.

Talk to your teacher about it. One suggestion I remember reading a while back on the forum is that you could maybe take part in the recital by making recordings of your playing to be used as people take their seats before the performance. You could be there on the day (nice and relaxed) and have your name in the programme. Also by the sounds of the repertoire you play it may be possible for you to do some accompanying. It's so much nicer and the focus is not really on you so you can enjoy it. I also like the piano party idea where you could perhaps play in the background along with a few other students.

What matters most is that you enjoy what you do with your music and share it in any way that feels good to you. If that means no public recitals then no problem.
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#2050455 - 03/18/13 08:13 PM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Sam S]
Roger Ransom Offline
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Registered: 01/19/05
Posts: 1290
Loc: SouthWest Michigan
Do you really want to do something voluntarily that requires you to take drugs? whether they're addictive or not it seems pretty radical to me.

If I needed drugs to accomplish it I certainly would say no until I found a better way. Or forget it.
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#2050493 - 03/18/13 09:12 PM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Roger Ransom]
ClsscLib Online   content

Platinum Supporter until Jan 02 2013


Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 1835
Loc: Northern VA, U.S.
Originally Posted By: Roger Ransom
Do you really want to do something voluntarily that requires you to take drugs? whether they're addictive or not it seems pretty radical to me.

If I needed drugs to accomplish it I certainly would say no until I found a better way. Or forget it.


And yet the Viagra market is rising...
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-- Florence Foster Jenkins

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#2050496 - 03/18/13 09:14 PM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Sam S]
Bobpickle Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014


Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1383
Loc: Cameron Park, California
Well the beta blockers idea was my take on it, but disclaimer: all drugs, while not necessarily physically addictive, can certainly become mentally addictive (i.e. the "states" they offer).

I brought up some questions like these with my teacher today and he suggested looking into and practicing meditation. He talked about how everyone has an "inner peace," and that working toward being able to activate such a state on the fly should be everyone's goal (this is assuming the music is well-prepared). Being able to "get in the zone" like this will allow you to perform the same for an audience whether it's 50, 500, or 5000 - all of which he's performed for.

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#2050525 - 03/18/13 10:26 PM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Sam S]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
Poster: Sam S

Subject: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture?

(quoted material)
"...
Last Friday was my teacher's studio recital: In a church, nice grand piano, me and 10 children aged from 8 to 18. All the kids are great players, regardless of age. They play from memory, and rarely make any technical errors. They even play expressively and musically. Amazing really. Then there is me. The only adult. I go first, to separate me from the kids, who play from youngest to oldest. This places the focus of the recital on the children, which is where it should be, but having the 59 year-old guy go first is a little stressful. It didn't go well. My Schumann Arabeske was full of errors. My Mendelssohn 38/6 had an huge error right at the climax of the piece. Looking back over my short career as an adult restarter, I have played in 7 recitals. Of those, I gave an "acceptable" performance at 3 of them. The other 4 ranged from near disasters to just plain bad. I don't know what I can do to improve my average. Playing in more recitals doesn't seem to help. I feel like I am prepared as much as I can be. The night before this latest recital, I played both pieces as well as I ever had for my teacher. It is disappointing, so much so that I am thinking of not participating in any more live studio recitals. There is another one in May, where we will be playing pop music - I am not looking forward to it. I have often thought that a better alternative would be to have an all-adult recital, but my teacher only has one other adult student, and she (wisely?) refuses to play in any recitals. I think that I will ask my teacher if she knows any other teachers with adult students and if they woud be interested in a combined recital. Of course, even that will probably not help my performances - it may make them worse! Anyway, thanks for listening to me complain!
..." (end of quoted material)

Reply:
Sam S,

Don't quit. It has nothing to do with age or your ability. It has to do with performing a task in front of others. Performing at the piano is no different than giving a lesson to a class, a talk to a group of people, giving a sales pitch to a couple of people, performing your lesson for your teacher from the week before. I think you played for your teacher but if they appeared and you played as if it was a concert for them, it sets the stage, as opposed to having a cup of coffee and chatting and playing the piece. When you play in a band, community band, you are playing with all sorts of musicans at different levels and it is a priceless experience. You need to get used to dealing with the public or groups of people. Public speaking, etc. At the time I was playing a sax and I got together with a guy who played the piano for duets. He was not used to playing with another person and had trouble, whereas I was 40, at the time, playing in 4 bands 4 times a week, a jazz band, 2 community bands, and a blues band flying by the seat of my pants with the help of a good teacher but I was only a beginner sax player. Some of the musicans played in college. I was way, way, over my heading playing what I could, left holes when I couldn't play, but it in was awesome experience. I remember going to a drawing course. Anything I drew looked like a monster but many people in the class were hiding their drawings and they looked beautiful so it is not the ability, it is the ability to train yourself to stay focused in your environment. Recording yourself everytime and playing it means you have to perform. Perform for others if you have the opportunity. The fireman option may help where the minute you get in the door or the minute you wake up, sit at the piano and immidately perform no matter what you feel like.

Give it some thought.


Edited by Michael_99 (03/18/13 10:40 PM)

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#2050551 - 03/18/13 11:42 PM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Michael_99]
malkin Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/18/09
Posts: 2754
Loc: *sigh* Salt Lake City
I just figure that the parents in the audience are just there to hear their own kid play, and they don't really care about any of the other performances.

In fact, when I was in high school playing flute at a recital, I screwed up completely and I don't think my own parents even noticed.
_________________________
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#2050555 - 03/18/13 11:58 PM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: malkin]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
Poster: malkin
Subject: Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture?

quoted material)
"...I just figure that the parents in the audience are just there to hear their own kid play, and they don't really care about any of the other performances.

In fact, when I was in high school playing flute at a recital, I screwed up completely and I don't think my own parents even noticed.
..."
(end of quoted material)

Reply:

malkin,

You are absolutely right. The audience is there to take their loved ones home. Have a good time, do the best you can and enjoy yourself. I learned the hard way, I screwed up a solo and played nothing. The conductor came over and told me next time just play anything. That is what I learned, just play anything and that is what I would do in Sam's situation - I would practice what I would do if I got lost and had to improvise - anything.

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#2050568 - 03/19/13 12:47 AM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Sam S]
Sand Tiger Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 1100
Loc: Southern California
Sam S, Thanks for sharing. From the many responses, it is a popular topic. From the recitals submissions and the pieces you are playing, you are obviously an accomplished pianist. There isn't a right or wrong answer as to continuing doing these particular recitals, or seeking other venues, or performing more often or less often.

Practicing for recitals or making recordings to share, tends to require a much higher level of polish and concentration than playing alone. That is one reason to do it, to reach higher.

Another reason is the connection that can only really occur during a live performance. For musicians that get that feeling of a near magical connection, there is nothing else like it. Musicians that get there almost always wants more of that. Even in the described setting, there might have been a couple of performers with enough musicality to get close to that place, when most all the kids stop fidgeting, when most all the adults are captivated by the music. Seasoned performers can feel those electric moments. To me, those moments are near priceless, and a big reason why I spend so much time and energy on my music hobby.

I believe that I one of the 20% or so that actually enjoys playing for others. I believe there are the 60% that has average nerves, and 20% that are very scared to terrified. From the stories, I would guess that you are in the average group. Most adults would be nervous in that setting, the only adult, the lead off person, with a bunch of kids that tend to play technically better to follow.

Even though I like to perform, I do suffer from nerves, especially on my new instrument the piano (1 year). My most recent public outing wasn't very good (described in the AOTW thread). Even though I was relatively smooth in practice, an unfamiliar and old instrument at the venue (Roland D20), previous failures, and normal nerves contributed to sub par performances. Even though I had an off night and made many bad beginner mistakes during my three pieces, there were a couple of times, a couple of phrases, where I could feel the room get real quiet. I could imagine the cartoon bubbles above their heads with an image such as a snow flake or a beautiful waterfall. I connected with the audience for those few moments, and those moments are why I like to perform.

What some recent replies said about continuing the rhythm is a useful tip (though I'm not sure it applies to your particular pieces). Few listeners know the pieces well, so if a performer keeps the rhythm going, the mistakes might not even be noticed. In my case, I mostly do original pieces, so as long as the rhythm is even, they don't know I hit a wrong note or chord.

Let me say 50/50 isn't bad considering how rarely you seem to perform, and the tough setting that you are performing in. Give yourself some credit. I perform all the time and rarely do I feel like I did my best, and I have no real fear of performing. Like I said, I tend to be in that 20% that looks forward to performing.

I agree that for someone in the lower 20% that gets very scared or terrified, there aren't too many reasons to do it. However, it doesn't sound like you are in that terrified group. Someone in that group would tend to have a much lower success rate and much more fear, much more symptoms before the event.

A lot of us have high standards, and high expectations. Just as a recital recording is rarely submission ready on a first take, a live performance is usually far from perfect. I have learned to live with minor flaws and count those performances as a success. It may not be that case for your recent recital, but some of the others that you are counting as failures might be closer to the good category as I think of it. I am not a concert musician. I am not auditioning for a conservatory, or for a paying job. I lower my standards so my performance can rise.


Edited by Sand Tiger (03/19/13 01:17 AM)
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#2052615 - 03/22/13 05:02 PM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Sam S]
Bobpickle Offline

Gold Supporter until July 10  2014


Registered: 05/24/12
Posts: 1383
Loc: Cameron Park, California
I thought I'd share the link to this article as I really enjoyed reading it last night

https://www.facebook.com/notes/sergei-ba...151418790579228

It's an interview with Sergei Babayan (student of Mikhail Pletnev, among others, and teacher of Daniil Trifonov). They discuss his thoughts on artistry, performing, teaching philosophy, and competitions - the sections on competition and performance preparation and just general thoughts are very insightful.

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#2056443 - 03/29/13 07:20 PM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Bobpickle]
Rimshot609 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/28/13
Posts: 17
Loc: Montana
Sam, I have my first recital in a couple of weeks. I am the only adult as well. I am excited to finally have this opportunity but am a nervous wreck. My biggest concern is that my hands will be shaking so that I cannot get through the piece or that my mind completely goes blank. My teacher insists that I play the recital. I have tried to get out of it but I totally understand how this will help me. She said that her students progress so much faster after each recital.
Sam, I'm curious what music were you playing for your recital?

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#2056682 - 03/30/13 05:45 AM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Rimshot609]
Sam S Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/12/07
Posts: 1430
Loc: Georgia, USA
Originally Posted By: Rimshot609
Sam, I have my first recital in a couple of weeks. I am the only adult as well. I am excited to finally have this opportunity but am a nervous wreck. My biggest concern is that my hands will be shaking so that I cannot get through the piece or that my mind completely goes blank. My teacher insists that I play the recital. I have tried to get out of it but I totally understand how this will help me. She said that her students progress so much faster after each recital.
Sam, I'm curious what music were you playing for your recital?


Good luck! I played the Schumann Arabeske first, which was a near disaster, then Mendelssohn 38/6, which went much better. That was my first time playing the Arabeske live, the Mendelssohn is something I have learned before and brought back. Not sure if that made any difference.

My teacher and I had a post-mortem on my performance. Of course, I could play it just fine for her only. We decided that the Arabeske failed because I just "lost contact" with the music (several times). Some sections I had memorized and my memory failed. Other sections the notes just looked odd and strange on the page, not like what I had practiced at all.

Hope you do well. I think attitude is important - go into it wanting to show everyone how well you can play! Remember to breath!

Sam

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#2056692 - 03/30/13 06:27 AM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Saranoya]
Saranoya Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/13
Posts: 632
Loc: Brussels, Belgium
Originally Posted By: Saranoya
So for me, participation, in and of itself, is enough of a goal. I don't really care how well I do, although in reality, I am of course hoping it will be wonderful.


I take that back.

Turns out I do care, very much, about how well I do. My recital performance yesterday went ... uh, let's go with 'not well'. I was going to say it was a disaster, but it wasn't, really. My Beethoven piece, which I've been working on since December, actually went quite well, though it wasn't error-free. But I absolutely Butchered the Burgmuller study.

I had practiced it with the metronome at 135 BPM (which is still slower than the metronome marking written on the score, but it's a good tempo), and at home, I could do that -- literally -- with my eyes closed. I tried to play it at 120 BPM, or thereabouts, at the recital, and I bombed badly. And I was in shambles, afterwards.

So now, I'm asking myself the same question as the OP. Why do I subject myself to the torture of live recitals?

It was good to re-read what I'd written here, earlier, about participation in itself being my actual goal. That's still true, and it at least convinced me not to give up recitals entirely, going forward. But it still kind of hurts to have messed up, and I don't know that I will ever encourage anyone, ever again, to do a live recital even though they're feeling skittish about it.
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#2056716 - 03/30/13 07:46 AM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Saranoya]
Sam S Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/12/07
Posts: 1430
Loc: Georgia, USA
Originally Posted By: Saranoya
[quote=Saranoya]
So now, I'm asking myself the same question as the OP. Why do I subject myself to the torture of live recitals?


Perhaps we should form a support group of ABF members who have been tortured by live recitals. I'll be member #1. Saranoya, you can be member #2.

Sam

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#2056782 - 03/30/13 10:43 AM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Sam S]
Sand Tiger Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 1100
Loc: Southern California
I'll continue to speak from the other side, to encourage all beginners to at least try. A person may well be in the 20% or so that is terrified, but a person won't know that until they go through it. If a person is in the small terrified group, by all means avoid live performance from now on.

For the average person there is hope. What are average nerves seem terrifying to some. The stories from Saranoya and Sam S would seem to be more in the average range, at least in terms of nerves and performance.

As to why? To reach higher. Connecting with live audiences have been the most rewarding events in my musical experiences. It takes more effort at polishing and rehearsing to record, and much more to be ready to go live with a piece.

CasinItaly's recent lengthy thread on Why Can't I Focus points out how common the nerves are and that thread is mostly for the red dot for recording. For many, a live performance is many times more problematic.
CasinItaly's thread

The tips in that thread apply to near all. Practice more, know the piece better, because it takes a higher level of knowing a piece to do a live performance. Do it more often, more live performances mean less nerves next time. Learn relaxation techniques and establish a routine for performance day, and just before starting the piece.

I recently performed at my church coffee house night and at my local music group Songmakers. I am a seasoned performer and know all the tricks. However, because I am a beginner at piano, I get nervous on piano. I've crashed and burned in public any number of times. In my worst cases, it was far more embarrassing than the recent stories from Saranoya or Sam S.

Like learning to play the piano, live performance gets better with practice. That's another reason I encourage all beginners to give it a go. In the stories on this thread, maybe the venues weren't the best, and a person might try to find different venues. If the venue can't be changed, perhaps select easier pieces that are so polished, so refined that they sparkle in the sun. For most, it tends to take a much higher level of knowing a piece to be ready to do it live.
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#2079018 - 05/07/13 09:14 PM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Sand Tiger]
Rimshot609 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/28/13
Posts: 17
Loc: Montana
Sam,

Tonight I had my 1st recital. As I mentioned in an earlier post. I too am the only adult. It sounds like the same setting as you. It was a complete train wreck. Even when I imagined in my mind the worst thing that could happen I didn't imagine something this bad happening. From the first measure it was a disaster and then in the middle I started playing random notes and skipped to the very end. I could play this in my sleep! I played it 7 times today before the recital, all 7 times perfectly. I too am thinking this will be my last recital like this. One day I will look back on this night and laugh. Unfortunately, that day is probably a good 10 to 15 years away.

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#2079037 - 05/07/13 10:02 PM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Rimshot609]
Sam S Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/12/07
Posts: 1430
Loc: Georgia, USA
Originally Posted By: Rimshot609
Sam,

Tonight I had my 1st recital. As I mentioned in an earlier post. I too am the only adult. It sounds like the same setting as you. It was a complete train wreck. Even when I imagined in my mind the worst thing that could happen I didn't imagine something this bad happening. From the first measure it was a disaster and then in the middle I started playing random notes and skipped to the very end. I could play this in my sleep! I played it 7 times today before the recital, all 7 times perfectly. I too am thinking this will be my last recital like this. One day I will look back on this night and laugh. Unfortunately, that day is probably a good 10 to 15 years away.


Sorry RimShot, that you had a similar experience. My only advice is not to give up on them totally - like I said, I've had mixed results. Your next one might be a better experience. I decided not to participate in my teacher's next recital, which is this coming weekend. She gives a recital every year this time in the lobby of a retirement community - I had another bad experience there last year, so I didn't want to repeat it!

But I am going to Summerkeys (summer piano camp for adults) this summer and plan to participate in the recital. At least that one will be all adult...

Sam

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#2079058 - 05/07/13 11:39 PM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Sam S]
Michael_99 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/12
Posts: 935
Loc: Canada Alberta
Sam, I have read your post, here:

Last Friday was my teacher's studio recital: In a church, nice grand piano, me and 10 children aged from 8 to 18.

All the kids are great players, regardless of age. They play from memory, and rarely make any technical errors. They even play expressively and musically. Amazing really.

Then there is me. The only adult. I go first, to separate me from the kids, who play from youngest to oldest. This places the focus of the recital on the children, which is where it should be, but having the 59 year-old guy go first is a little stressful.

It didn't go well. My Schumann Arabeske was full of errors. My Mendelssohn 38/6 had an huge error right at the climax of the piece.

Looking back over my short career as an adult restarter, I have played in 7 recitals. Of those, I gave an "acceptable" performance at 3 of them. The other 4 ranged from near disasters to just plain bad.

I don't know what I can do to improve my average. Playing in more recitals doesn't seem to help. I feel like I am prepared as much as I can be. The night before this latest recital, I played both pieces as well as I ever had for my teacher.

It is disappointing, so much so that I am thinking of not participating in any more live studio recitals. There is another one in May, where we will be playing pop music - I am not looking forward to it.

I have often thought that a better alternative would be to have an all-adult recital, but my teacher only has one other adult student, and she (wisely?) refuses to play in any recitals. I think that I will ask my teacher if she knows any other
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Top Reply Quote Quick Reply Quick Quote Notifyteachers with adult students and if they woud be interested in a combined recital.

Of course, even that will probably not help my performances - it may make them worse!

Anyway, thanks for listening to me complain!

Sam
____________________________________________

It is not your ability to play the piece.
It is not your age.
It is not the audience.
It is not the other contestants.
It is not the age of the other contestants.
It is your brain being distracted.

So one consideration is to create an environment of a distraction while you play. You have to train your brain to work through a distraction like soldiers are trained to keep going while being shot at during war.

If you remember watching "army/marines movies, etc. they have soldiers crawling on the ground with things happing over their head.

You as a piano player could create the same situation. You could do this by yourself by playing the piano and having the tv on loud or earphone at a volume that you just barely hear yourself play the piece while the tv is loud in the backgound.

Effectively, you are in a crisis and you have to ignore it or your brain has to ignore it so you can play the piece - being relaxed - because you are in control - and you don't want any mistakes. If you do that regularly creating a "safe" environment, then when you do a recital, nothing will bother you.

You can test yourself by also telling people to call you, or you call them and play the piece while you talk to them on the telephone - it might cause you to pause or not speak while reading and playing of the piece but that is what it is all about.

When you are a beginner driver dealing with a turn or traffic light often it means you can't talk - but after a while with some experience you can do both at the same time safely. I think you get the idea
of what you have to do.

And you can also write out the piece 4 bars and then 4 bars of rests and then the next 4 bars of music until the end and then you can play 4 bars and then count the rests so you have to act at a specific moment. You can do that as a duet and have somebody play 4 bars of one piece they know and you play 4 bars of the piece you know. And as I remember your post you have a teacher. So she plays bars and then you play 4 bars right on time. That will be stress if you are not used to playing the piano with someone else - like your teacher!

Now you now what you have to do to your poor brain to get in in shape for battle of distraction.

cheers and good luck,

One more thing. When I review my pieces I always act as if I am in a mini concert playing a piece without errors, of course, and one piece after another non-stop, page after page for usually 20 or more pieces.

You could do the same thing thinking that if you make a mistake, you must carry on -non-stopping so you would play anything you make up until you find your spot and carry on and if you can't find your spot, you have to carry on without getting upset by just starting the next piece you would play.



Edited by Michael_99 (05/08/13 12:02 AM)

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#2079066 - 05/08/13 12:35 AM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Rimshot609]
Sand Tiger Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 1100
Loc: Southern California
Originally Posted By: Rimshot609
Sam,

Tonight I had my 1st recital. As I mentioned in an earlier post. I too am the only adult. It sounds like the same setting as you. It was a complete train wreck. Even when I imagined in my mind the worst thing that could happen I didn't imagine something this bad happening. From the first measure it was a disaster and then in the middle I started playing random notes and skipped to the very end. I could play this in my sleep! I played it 7 times today before the recital, all 7 times perfectly. I too am thinking this will be my last recital like this. One day I will look back on this night and laugh. Unfortunately, that day is probably a good 10 to 15 years away.


Rimshot609, I'm sure you'll do better next time. Hopefully you learned that seven play throughs on recital day doesn't work for you. I'm sure that if you had asked in advanced, it would have been near unanimous against that idea. One or two is about all a person needs, and some don't even do that much, if they have done their work in the weeks before. Mental play throughs away from the instrument can often be more useful than a physical.

There have been any number of other performance day tips earlier in the thread. If the beginning is a struggle, sometimes a small crib sheet with just the opening is useful. I find that once the first few notes are played, the muscle memory often kicks in, even if my mind feels completely blank. There is a TV commercial with Schroeder from the Peanuts cartoon at the piano. He can't get started, but once he plays the first few notes the rest flows out.
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#2079083 - 05/08/13 01:33 AM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Sam S]
4evrBeginR Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/27/09
Posts: 1607
Loc: California
So, your batting average is .429, that's great. Besides, you are setting a great example for everyone, including those kids you play with.
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#2079129 - 05/08/13 05:33 AM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Michael_99]
Sam S Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/12/07
Posts: 1430
Loc: Georgia, USA
Originally Posted By: Michael_99

It is not your ability to play the piece.
It is not your age.
It is not the audience.
It is not the other contestants.
It is not the age of the other contestants.
It is your brain being distracted.



Sorry, but I have to strongly disagree. All of these things are important factors, and you cannot simplify to just being distracted.

Sam

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#2079156 - 05/08/13 07:13 AM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Sam S]
Peyton Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 2629
Loc: Maine
Sam, I can totally relate. When I took lessons it was pretty much the same thing... I was one of the few "adults" surrounded by kids. And some of the kids were amazing. I only played in a few recitals but the one that stands out for me I had to play a Chopin, a Brahms and an interpretation on a Chopin/Liszt piece. I don't remember what the pieces were but the first thing that happened was I sat down at the piano looked down and couldn't remember how to start. It was a piece i could have played at home blindfolded and backwards. Then I finally got started, reached a section in the piece that sounded similar to the beginning and...started over. I did that twice before I could finally remember where the damned thing went to. I think I stretched a two minute prelude into about six or seven minutes... The only piece I played with any confidence was my interpretation on a work. I'm guessing that had i continued playing the recitals I would have gotten over the "nerves" thing but to this day I still cannot play for people.

I have been working on that Arabesque ever since hearing you play it and was wondering how your recital went. It's a pretty tough piece and pretty long too.
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#2079365 - 05/08/13 02:59 PM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Sam S]
torquenale Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/29/12
Posts: 368
Loc: Italy
Rimshot609, after reading about your experience I'm really panicking! My recital with kids is due in about 3 weeks.
Anyway, I decided I will use the score...
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#2079393 - 05/08/13 03:58 PM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Sam S]
dynamobt Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/07/13
Posts: 739
Loc: NH
SamS, you sound about at the same level that I'm at. I played the Schumann Arabesque in my first recital with my present teacher last year. Count me as #3 in your Adults with fear of performing group!! When and where do we meet? I'll bring refreshments!!!!

I too am the only adult in my teacher's recitals. There are a few adults who will perform in the All Adult recital. But in the school recitals, I'm the only adult who will perform.

So far so good. But my teacher threw in the possibility of memorizing my piece for the June 1st recital. It's thrown me into an absolute "state"!!! Given my performance nerves, I don't care if I'm able to play the piece by memory in a lesson. I'm pretty sure I'll put my foot down and play with the music at the recital. I don't want to make a fool of myself!!!

My only advice is to play in front of people as often as you can. If you have friends who have pianos, offer to go over for an hour and play for them. Have people to your house. I SO wish we lived closer!!! I would happily entertain a small group in my house for you to come and play and you could do the same for me. That would be fun beyond words!

If you are anything like me, you want to be able to share your music with people. That's what drives me performing. I'm not showing off, not comparing myself with the kids. I simply put so much time into the practicing of these pieces to play them well, that it seems a bit of a shame to only play them for my teach, myself and my husband. I enjoy playing. I want to be able to share that with people

Nerves get better the more you do something. I can' get myself in the same frame of mind I'm in at a performance without actually performing. So, the solution is to play for people as often as I can. So, the worst thing you could do is give up. Then the nerves win and they will only get worse any time you try and play for people at all.

I take lessons in the summer too, and am only a year back into playing again after a long, long break from it. I've not hear of Summerkeys. I'll have to look into it. Wouldn't it be great if one year a bunch of us went to the same session??!!!!! That sound like fun!!

Keep the faith. Give yourself some credit for playing in public at all. The kids recover from things so much more easily than we do as adults. Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy. Try being your own best friend. Say only positive encouraging things to yourself. How we talk to ourselves has a lot to do with how we handle things. Be kind, not critical. Be your own best friend.
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#2079425 - 05/08/13 04:56 PM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: Sam S]
JimF Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/08/09
Posts: 1828
Loc: south florida
This thread is hard to ignore for those of us about to embark on the annual ritual. If anyone would like to go over the positives and try to generate a good attitude about your upcoming recital, I'm starting a new thread called "Recital Coming Up? No Worries". Hope its not just me and the crickets over there. thumb
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#2079476 - 05/08/13 07:28 PM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: torquenale]
Rimshot609 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 03/28/13
Posts: 17
Loc: Montana
Originally Posted By: torquenale
Rimshot609, after reading about your experience I'm really panicking! My recital with kids is due in about 3 weeks.
Anyway, I decided I will use the score...


Torquenale, if it helps I feel a little better today now that I have slept on it. I recorded the audio on my iPhone and played it back today. It was a lot better than I thought but was still a train wreck. I had a good 10-15 seconds where I was lost as a goose lol. I wished I could give you some advice but I don't know what would help. I know the thing that will fix this is playing more recitals. If it takes 25 more so be it. I am starting Piano Performance as an adult at a university this fall and know that I have got to learn how to keep it together and keep my mind focused because I have a lot more recitals ahead. As much as I dread it I will give the 'kidos' another shot smile As much as I hate how I performed I'm still glad I had the guts to do it. At least I have a teaching lesson to help my kids with when they grow up and face a difficult task like this.

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#2079605 - 05/09/13 01:54 AM Re: Live Recitals - Why do I subject myself to this torture? [Re: JimF]
sinophilia Offline

Gold Supporter until Sept. 05 2014


Registered: 06/26/12
Posts: 1022
Loc: Italy
[OT]

Originally Posted By: JimF
Direttore, GiacomoF Scuola dei Tempi Glaciali


lol, does this mean that only very slow playing is allowed in this school? Can I join in? laugh

[/OT]
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