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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
1000 Post Club Member

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.
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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 Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/05/13
Posts: 702
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: 1411
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
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/07/09
Posts: 990
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 Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/05/13
Posts: 702
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
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/08/09
Posts: 1706
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
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/07/09
Posts: 990
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: 2893
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 Online   content
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Registered: 01/19/05
Posts: 1254
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 Offline

Platinum Supporter until Jan 02 2013


Registered: 03/14/08
Posts: 1742
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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#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: 2498
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 Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 1010
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: 1411
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 Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/27/13
Posts: 593
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: 1411
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 Online   content
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Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 1010
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
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Registered: 12/12/07
Posts: 1411
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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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 Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 1010
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: 1411
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: 2550
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: 284
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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