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#2064420 - 04/14/13 10:38 AM My first competition. Any tips?
albynism Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 321
Tomorrow is going to be my first ever competition. It will be a small one in my local area. I'm so nervous and excited. I played through the pieces in front of my friends and did all my homework etc. Any tips from the pros here about what to do/or avoid on the day of the competition? The breathing in and out thing doesn't work for me, if anything it makes me even more nervous! I'm so scared my hands are going to freeze up on the day, or my mind will go blank during playing and I will forget the next notes I'm suppose to play..

My first recital was disastrous, and I just didn't want to repeat the same experience again. frown

Thanks in advance!

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#2064423 - 04/14/13 10:48 AM Re: My first competition. Any tips? [Re: albynism]
albynism Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 321
Here is some reasons why I think I went really bad on my first recital. And what could have been done to prevent it

1) The piano felt "funny"
It was very different to the piano I was accustom to, I should have try on it beforehand but in competition as small as this I doubt there will be a time for the contestant to try out the piano.

2) I lost control of the piece
It was Presto and I might have became too ambitious and started on a slightly faster tempo. Also because the piano felt funny at the first touch I was "shocked" and there wasn't a chance to recollect my thought because the piece is so fast, and throughout the piece I was just praying my fingers are not going to miss any keys.

3) The bench was not adjustable,
I was seated rather high, but there was nothing I could do about it smirk

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#2064465 - 04/14/13 12:20 PM Re: My first competition. Any tips? [Re: albynism]
rocket88 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/04/06
Posts: 3158
Quote:
2) I lost control of the piece
It was Presto


Without more information, I would guess that you chose a piece that is near or at the peak of your ability.

Until you become a seasoned performer, you should always choose pieces that are somewhat below your utmost ability.

The extra cushion will be used up by the anxiety, strangeness of the equipments, etc. of the performance.
_________________________
Music teacher and piano player.

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#2064478 - 04/14/13 12:37 PM Re: My first competition. Any tips? [Re: albynism]
AldenH Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/22/11
Posts: 412
Loc: Texas
Simple trick that I use for calming nerves: breathe deeply in, hold an index finger in front of your mouth, and very slowly (small mouth opening) but with lots of air pressure, pretend to blow out an imaginary candle (the flame at the tip of your finger). When you have almost no air left, give a final push "in" with your solar plexus to empty your lungs. I find it very calming.

Also:

• Ignore the audience completely once you've bowed (gleaming smile before your bow helps lighten your mood). It's a little harder when there are just judges, but remember that judges (like regular audience members) want to hear you play your best - they're not there to shoot you down.

• Take a few seconds to "hear" the first bar or two of the work that you're performing, and then when you start playing, you're joining the music already sounding - your biorhythms approximately in time with the tempo of the work.

• Remember that sitting down isn't the critical juncture: starting is. Take as much time as you need and feel comfortable using to adjust the position and/or height of the bench. Taking too long to adjust the bench is far preferable to playing at a different height than you are used to (this is why it's also useful to practice with your bench at different heights, changing just a bit every few weeks or what have you). Depending on the format of the competition, it may be okay to play a chord or a short scale to get a very basic feel for the piano, but if not, you can still put your hands / a hand on the keyboard and depress the keys very gently to see what the action is like without sounding any notes.

I hope that helps!

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#2064513 - 04/14/13 01:29 PM Re: My first competition. Any tips? [Re: albynism]
albynism Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 321
Woohoo! thanks for tips. Keep em coming.
For this competition the pieces are relatively easier than the one I did for my first recital. But yes the piece I did was near the peak of my ability, though my technique have considerably improved since then. So hopefully I should be in a better spot than last time!

1) Ever since the recital, I keep changing my bench height every day. Check smile
2) I always hear the piece and set the tempo before starting. Check
3) I don't know how to completely ignore the audience. smirk
I think it's an ego thing. I'm a very self-conscious person. Someone mentioned I should not be focusing on myself, focus on the composer and play it like it is your job...

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#2064542 - 04/14/13 03:12 PM Re: My first competition. Any tips? [Re: albynism]
Peter K. Mose Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/06/12
Posts: 1317
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
1. Get plenty of rest tonight.
2. Eat a good meal a couple hours ahead of performance time.
3. Arrive with enough time to unstress, walk around, sip liquid, eat raisins, etc.
4. Pretend you love the pieces you are playing.

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#2065352 - 04/16/13 05:08 AM Re: My first competition. Any tips? [Re: albynism]
albynism Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 321
Thanks guys!
I got second place in the competition with my very humble repertoire
I was up against people who played Mephisto Waltz, Campanella, Chopin Ballade, Carl Vine Sonata, Volodos transcription of the Turkish March.
When I came in the venue I was so shocked to hear the level of difficulty (i though it was meant to be a small one) and the finesse of the pieces being played. I was ready to leave!
I still can't believe I even manage a second place. I played a Beethoven Sonata, a piece from Prokofiev Romeo and Juliet and a Chopin Etude.

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#2065376 - 04/16/13 07:05 AM Re: My first competition. Any tips? [Re: albynism]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7767
Originally Posted By: albynism
Thanks guys!
I got second place in the competition with my very humble repertoire
I was up against people who played Mephisto Waltz, Campanella, Chopin Ballade, Carl Vine Sonata, Volodos transcription of the Turkish March.
When I came in the venue I was so shocked to hear the level of difficulty (i though it was meant to be a small one) and the finesse of the pieces being played. I was ready to leave!
I still can't believe I even manage a second place. I played a Beethoven Sonata, a piece from Prokofiev Romeo and Juliet and a Chopin Etude.


Congratulations!

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#2065394 - 04/16/13 08:09 AM Re: My first competition. Any tips? [Re: albynism]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10349
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
What piece from R&J? That set of pieces is very audience pleasing.
_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

https://www.youtube.com/user/dhfeld/videos

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#2065412 - 04/16/13 09:11 AM Re: My first competition. Any tips? [Re: albynism]
albynism Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 321
Thanks wr.

Piano*Dad: I played the Young Juliet.

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#2065430 - 04/16/13 10:00 AM Re: My first competition. Any tips? [Re: albynism]
Cinnamonbear Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/09/10
Posts: 3847
Loc: Rockford, IL
I am on the edge of my seat waiting to hear the details! smile

How did you react to that particular new-to-you strange piano? Did you have an adjustable bench? Were you able to get comfortable at the piano before you began to play? How did you get yourself focused and then stay focused? Did you enjoy your performance experience?

Spill the beans!!!

--Andy
_________________________
I may not be fast,
but at least I'm slow.

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#2065440 - 04/16/13 10:24 AM Re: My first competition. Any tips? [Re: albynism]
Peter K. Mose Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/06/12
Posts: 1317
Loc: Toronto, Ontario
Bravo. You must have communicated through your playing!

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#2065456 - 04/16/13 10:52 AM Re: My first competition. Any tips? [Re: albynism]
albynism Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/29/10
Posts: 321
Glad you asked. I'm more than happy to spill the beans!

Okay, first off, when I arrived at the venue a girl was halfway the Mephisto Waltz my heart just sank. I was just ready to head back and call in sick from my mobile, seriously.

Somehow I persevered. I thought I signed up and paid for this, so even if I became butt-of-the-joke in this competition I would at least get some valuable feedback.

I waited until it was my turn, sitting down with cold hands and so nervous. Beside me another competitor intently listening to his headphone, obviously running through his repertoire, they are all taking this very seriously!

Then they call in my number, I went to the stage, smiled, bowed, the adjudicators at their seats. Then I completely COMPLETELY TRIED AS HARD AS I COULD to block them out from my head. I adjusted the bench (yes finally an adjustable bench!), softly press a chord on the piano (not the best piano, was very squishy, keeping this in mind, I notched down my intended tempo a bit) then I started playing.

Now, before I play I usually try to think of imagery to help me with the pieces, but during performance it was very hard to do, so what was running though my head was "CONTROL, I gotta stay in control", "DON'T STOP, whatever blunder I make do not stop", I actually made some minor slips during some complicated runs, something that I will have to work on in the future, but thankfully it was very minor in hindsight, sometime after me a girl played the Chopin Ballade and had several memory lapses and I truly felt sorry for her.

Afterwards they call me up again to do the Romantic Pieces section, I played the Chopin Etude. The second time around was much better than the first, I was less nervous but I was worrying about the first few notes of the etude, I thought I had forgotten it! I just prayed as soon as I hit the first note I would remember what will come after and thankfully I did. I think I performed better in this one but according to the report the Chopin Etude was the weakest, although he commended it was technically well executed but the tempo was a little too slow. I guess I was playing it safe.

Overall I enjoyed the competition, even if i hadn't won anything I would still think it was a valuable learning experience. Well winning something was an icing on the cake. I'm glad I didn't listen to the voice in my head telling to head back and run. haha!

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#2065570 - 04/16/13 01:29 PM Re: My first competition. Any tips? [Re: Piano*Dad]
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10349
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
Originally Posted By: Piano*Dad
What piece from R&J? That set of pieces is very audience pleasing.


Yes, that's one of the two I had guessed might have been on your list. The other is Montagues & Capulets.
_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

https://www.youtube.com/user/dhfeld/videos

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#2065727 - 04/16/13 09:25 PM Re: My first competition. Any tips? [Re: albynism]
Polyphonist Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7516
Loc: New York City
Which CE did you play?
_________________________
Regards,

Polyphonist

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