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#2102934 - 06/15/13 02:35 PM Another happy dad post -- stage fright question
rlinkt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/08/12
Posts: 320
Loc: CA
My daughter really enjoys playing, and puts in a lot of effort into her piano. But she suffers from severe stage fright. Whether its playing for our friends at home, or on a stage -- she tends to freeze. Her playing is affected and she tends to forget things she knows inside and out. When she is playing at home, you can see the joy in her body language. That all goes out once the focus is on her. Here is an example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RB5qul2-zVw

Any suggestions on how to get over stage fright?

Thanks

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#2102953 - 06/15/13 03:19 PM Re: Another happy dad post -- stage fright question [Re: rlinkt]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7417
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
I don't see a stage fright problem here, but I do see another problem.

I hold 10 performance classes through the year. In it, we emphasize stage decorum. How to handle yourself, no matter how you feel about your performance. Not all teachers do. You might want to ask your teacher about introducing these to her studio. She is certainly doing an excellent job in the other areas of music teaching.

I also stress to the students that it's unlikely that anyone in the audience, other than another student or myself, will know if an oops occurred. My lips are sealed and other students have enough sense to know what goes around, comes around.

Live concerts are not recording, where editing can and does take place. There will, in fact, be note errors. Period. And if a student is fortunate enough to make it through without a note error, there are plenty of the other facets where a slip-up can occur. There simply is no such thing as a perfect performance.

FWIW, When I was a student, my parents sucked all the joy out of playing in public. How? If I played one wrong note, that became the subject of the after performance critique, not the ten thousand notes played correctly. Not the steady rhythm and beat, not the great dynamics, not the correct inflections to reflect the style of the music, no, they focused on that one wrong note. How do you think I felt? And strangely enough, those are the memories which are burned in from childhood. Thank you mom and dad for those wonderful and heartfelt memories. All parents should evaluate their critiques of their students. Positive comments should out-weight negative comments at least by a factor of 10. Twenty or more would even be better. No negative comments would be best. Why? Because the student knows far, far better than you any performance short-comings.

BTW, your daughter gave a wonderful performance. I haven't a clue if there were any shortcomings.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#2102955 - 06/15/13 03:25 PM Re: Another happy dad post -- stage fright question [Re: rlinkt]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3336
Loc: Scotland
Hang on, where was the 'all goes out'? Exactly which bit of the performance were you not happy with? She may have been terrified but she didn't show it.
_________________________
I am a competent teacher.


www.justfingers.co.uk
www.babysinging.co.uk

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#2102983 - 06/15/13 04:43 PM Re: Another happy dad post -- stage fright question [Re: John v.d.Brook]
rlinkt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/08/12
Posts: 320
Loc: CA
TLT & John,

Thanks for your responses!

Originally Posted By: John v.d.Brook
I don't see a stage fright problem here, but I do see another problem.

I agree. Her teacher truly has been terrific for her, and she does go over the stage decorum before performances -- but she can't remember them on stage because she is stressed out! The idea of a class about stage decorum may be very appropriate. I will bring it up with her.

Originally Posted By: ten left thumbs
Hang on, where was the 'all goes out'? Exactly which bit of the performance were you not happy with? She may have been terrified but she didn't show it.

She did not have a smile on her face! When she is playing this piece at home, there is always a smile on her face. On stage, she is stressed out. As John pointed out, she forgot to bow to the audience. After the performance, her first comment was that she made mistakes. I don't care about how many mistakes she makes -- I want her to have the same level of fun she has playing at home.

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#2102991 - 06/15/13 05:13 PM Re: Another happy dad post -- stage fright question [Re: rlinkt]
Allan W. Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/03/12
Posts: 376
Loc: Michigan
Sounded great, I'm not sure I could play that well actually.

She didn't look that nervous. Don't force her to have fun on stage wink It takes experience and she's just a kid.

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#2103035 - 06/15/13 08:09 PM Re: Another happy dad post -- stage fright question [Re: rlinkt]
Gary D. Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/30/08
Posts: 4814
Loc: South Florida
Originally Posted By: rlinkt
My daughter really enjoys playing, and puts in a lot of effort into her piano. But she suffers from severe stage fright. Whether its playing for our friends at home, or on a stage -- she tends to freeze.

You need to show us an example of her freezing. There was no freeze here.
Quote:

Her playing is affected and she tends to forget things she knows inside and out. When she is playing at home, you can see the joy in her body language. That all goes out once the focus is on her. Here is an example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RB5qul2-zVw

She is probably a talented introvert. Some people are just born to be the center of attention.

Barbra Streisand, Vladimir Horowitz and many others suffered from stage fright.

Nothing stops people from being shy. All we can do is try to help them deal with it.

Sometimes the teacher has to have more confidence. See how the teacher was there to help her get started? If necessary the teacher can remind her to take a bow, smile, milk the audience.

It is hard when the student does not play well. Her playing was pretty much rock solid. The rest is easy when that is true.
_________________________
Piano Teacher

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#2103133 - 06/16/13 12:46 AM Re: Another happy dad post -- stage fright question [Re: rlinkt]
carlos88 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/18/13
Posts: 95
Loc: Colorado
I was terrified as a kid playing at piano recitals, and then later with things like giving speeches in various grade school classes. After recitals, people would tell me that I played very well, but I was usually too wound up during a performance to remember anything about how I had played.


There are a few things that I believe would have helped me during childhood lessons, based on what helped me later with public speaking.

1) Smaller small group recitals, more often. For example, a recital with 3-6 of the students, once a month. These aren't formal settings, but are for getting practice with playing in front of others.

2) Playing with others on the stage - 1 piano 4 hands, or 2 pianos in a duet. Having someone else to play with takes the focus off of the audience and onto playing with the player.

3) Game-like experiences with a group at a recital. For example, take a piece with 8-10 variations, like Mozart's "Ah vous dirai-je, Maman", and split them between 2-4 players for the recital. Have the players lined up, where each player take 1 variation at a time, quickly rotating between the performers.
_________________________
I'd rather play badly than not at all...

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#2103134 - 06/16/13 01:05 AM Re: Another happy dad post -- stage fright question [Re: carlos88]
John v.d.Brook Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/18/06
Posts: 7417
Loc: Olympia, Washington, USA
Carlos, those are great suggestions. Many of us already do #1 & #2, but your 3rd suggestion is great. And you can do variations on it as well. For example, have 3 or 4 students prepare a relatively easy piece, but each student only gets to perform 8/12/16 measures, and the next student has to be ready, on the bench, to slide over and take over playing without skipping a beat, then another rotation 16 bars later, etc. You can change the student order and repeat. Because the focus will be on the mechanics, there will be little or no time for self-consciousness. The results should be great fun for everyone.
_________________________
"Those who dare to teach must never cease to learn." -- Richard Henry Dann
Full-time Private Piano Teacher offering Piano Lessons in Olympia, WA. www.mypianoteacher.com
Certified by the American College of Musicians; member NGPT, MTNA, WSMTA, OMTA

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#2103165 - 06/16/13 03:04 AM Re: Another happy dad post -- stage fright question [Re: rlinkt]
Charles Cohen Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/12
Posts: 1539
Loc: Richmond, BC, Canada
Originally Posted By: rlinkt


She did not have a smile on her face! When she is playing this piece at home, there is always a smile on her face. On stage, she is stressed out. As John pointed out, she forgot to bow to the audience. After the performance, her first comment was that she made mistakes. I don't care about how many mistakes she makes -- I want her to have the same level of fun she has playing at home.


That may be an unrealistic goal -- and _you_ are setting it!

I often smile when I practice at home. When I play for my teacher, I'm working hard for a "best-possible" performance, and my smile probably disappears. No time to think about it, though -- too busy playing.

I'm one of the leaders of a chant group, singing and drumming. Getting everything right during a performance is a full-attention job. If things go well (and they often do), I'll smile happily _after_ a chant.

Some degree of "stage anxiety" is perfectly reasonable. Most people don't walk off the stage saying:

. . . Oh, I felt so _relaxed_ up there!

Success (IMHO) is doing well _in spite of_ that anxiety.

. Charles

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#2103166 - 06/16/13 03:04 AM Re: Another happy dad post -- stage fright question [Re: rlinkt]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3336
Loc: Scotland
Originally Posted By: rlinkt

She did not have a smile on her face! When she is playing this piece at home, there is always a smile on her face. On stage, she is stressed out. As John pointed out, she forgot to bow to the audience. After the performance, her first comment was that she made mistakes. I don't care about how many mistakes she makes -- I want her to have the same level of fun she has playing at home.


You can't ask her to smile while performing. Either it comes or it doesn't, but she has to concentrate. She forgot to bow because she just wanted off the piano stool. She did not even sit on the stool to receive the applause, she just wanted off.

Just give her lots of praise and keep her going, lots of suggestions here. She is doing really well. All will be fine.
_________________________
I am a competent teacher.


www.justfingers.co.uk
www.babysinging.co.uk

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#2103202 - 06/16/13 07:28 AM Re: Another happy dad post -- stage fright question [Re: rlinkt]
ShiroKuro Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 3515
Loc: not in Japan anymore
You've gotten excellent comments so far, but I'll try to share what I was thinking as I was listening to your daughter's WONDERFUL performance. I struggled with performance anxiety but really changed how I think about playing for others, and while I do get the shakes sometimes, it no longer overcomes me and I can truly enjoy playing for others. So, based on my own experiences, here are the thoughts I had.

First, how old is she? Is she old enough (emotionally) to talk about how she feels when performing and to strategize how to make it more enjoyable?

Is the concern with stage fright yours or hers? If it's hers, and she's mature enough, it makes sense to me to work on some tricks to help her enjoy her time performing for others. You might start with asking her if she likes to play. This might seem obvious, but it's easy to forget. Remind her to keep her love of playing center in her mind. Does she like to play for others? She might say no, but don't stop there, figure out what is it, and it's probably something related to not wanting to make mistakes. Try to get her to focus on view ing performance as sharing something with others. If we make cookies, we love to share them and see someone else enjoying what we made. Playing music for others is the same thing. She can learn how to remind herself "I worked hard to get this piece into my fingers, and I want to share what I like best about it."

Similarly, I think it's important to learn to live with "nerves." They're not likely to go away and never come back. And an attack of stage fright is a physical occurance that results in certain physical reactions. Rather than trying to stop those reactions, re-label them as excitment. And then learn to let go. "Hands shaking?" Par for the course, keep playing. This is much more effective than engaging with it "oh no, my hands are shaking, what do I do? I'm gonna mess up" -- this kind of thinking rarely has a positive outcome.

As others have mentioned, it's important to practice "stage etiquette," but you might also encourage her to practice connecting with the audience, looking at them, smiling etc. If she plays for friends or other family, you might have her practice introducing the piece, say she likes it. This might sound like it would make her more nervous, but it takes the focus off of "I'm so nervous" and puts it onto "I want you to know a little bit about this music."

Also, you might consider making a rule, something like no self-critique, no mentioning mistakes outloud unless it's a lesson, or a true practice. When someone (non-teacher) is listening, no negative comments even if she thinks she made a ton of mistakes.

Good luck! I really enjoyed your daughter's playing!
_________________________
Started piano June 1999. My recordings at Box.Net:
https://app.box.com/s/j4rgyhn72uvluemg1m6u




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#2103293 - 06/16/13 11:52 AM Re: Another happy dad post -- stage fright question [Re: ShiroKuro]
rlinkt Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/08/12
Posts: 320
Loc: CA
There are lots of great suggestions here -- thanks a lot to everyone for sharing your wisdom.

I can relate to some of the suggestions very well. I used to play guitar, and I have plenty of experience with hands shaking and sweating when on stage. What was very insightful for me was this comment:

Originally Posted By: carlos88

2) Playing with others on the stage - 1 piano 4 hands, or 2 pianos in a duet. Having someone else to play with takes the focus off of the audience and onto playing with the player.

3) Game-like experiences with a group at a recital. For example, take a piece with 8-10 variations, like Mozart's "Ah vous dirai-je, Maman", and split them between 2-4 players for the recital. Have the players lined up, where each player take 1 variation at a time, quickly rotating between the performers.

I never realized that being up there all by yourself is far more scary than being up there with a bunch of other people.

I also appreciate this comment:
Originally Posted By: Charles Cohen

That may be an unrealistic goal -- and _you_ are setting it!

Quite likely that I am pushing her too much to be relaxed.

And this is a really a great suggestion:

Originally Posted By: ShiroKuro

As others have mentioned, it's important to practice "stage etiquette," but you might also encourage her to practice connecting with the audience, looking at them, smiling etc. If she plays for friends or other family, you might have her practice introducing the piece, say she likes it.

These are two great and easily actionable suggestions. I can see how this can really help her relax.

Thanks everybody for the great suggestions! I will figure out how to act on them.

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#2103665 - 06/17/13 03:27 AM Re: Another happy dad post -- stage fright question [Re: rlinkt]
Opus_Maximus Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/27/04
Posts: 1500
I don't see any nerves or slip-up's in this video - she is playing quite well. (I'm not sure if it was intended to show us how she plays when she is "on")..

In addition to what has already been said, a good strategy (and something I still incorporate in my own performing career), is that of repeated performances (Usually 2 or 3) of the same piece within a relatively short time span.

Let's say she has a big recital or performance scheduled....starting about three weeks before, organize two "mock" performances that are still in relatively high-stress settings. (The higher the stress the better). If she freezes up in the first one, take a deep breath, relax, and go home and practice those hard sections with even more patience and focus than before. Come the second performance, things should be much better, and she will have a serious spurt of confidence - and after even more practicing, the big one will hopefully be her best - which will in turn add to her long-term reservoir of confidence and security onstage. While on a smaller scale, it's really the same thing as concert artists who will play the same program in 30 different cities over two seasons before they play it in their Carnegie Hall recital.


Edited by Opus_Maximus (06/17/13 03:28 AM)

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