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Discussion Starter #1
I have a problem when the spotlight is put on me. It seems when I'm put on the spot, my brain goes mushy. I'm in highschool and we always have playing test. I get it when I'm playing to myself or to a few people but when I play in front of everyone (They directors usually split the band in to brass and wood winds for tests) sometimes I get really nervous and mess up...alot. We had band placement auditions and I did fine before it was my turn. I even did good when I went to play for the judge but when I messed up the first time thats when I got nervous and started to mess up alot. It really bugs me when I know I can get it but I just lose it when I'm under pressure. Any tips to keep my cool even when I mess up?
 

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Somebody around here had a quote in their profile that went something like "a good player practices until he doesn't make any mistakes. A great player practices until he can't make a mistake."

I'm not great or even good but I think I understand the process enough to know that you have to practice until you don't even think about the notes. You just play it from memory. And not the memory in your brain, the memory in your muscles.

Take a few slow deep breaths before you start playing your test.

Hope this helps.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
haha well I do have a girlfriend. I'm going to take you up on the breathing and practicing. Maybe I just overly hype up the situation.
 

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Don't hate on yourself for messing up. Remember that keeping the rhythmic feel is more important than nailing every note, so if you fumble make sure you pick up the ball & keep running to the endzone. & also remember that it's not life & death, and that you only do it because you love it.

--Right?
 

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I was a nervous player in high school, and never played my best in performances. With more stage experience, I now get a nice little "rush" when I get the spotlight, but do not feel nervous. I consistently play better in performance than in practice.

The difference is nothing more than time and experience. Most helpful have been the moments when I really, truly sucked. Don't forget those moments. Ever. Relive them in your head. BUT, focus on the fact that you survived it, nothing REALLY bad happened (maybe you lost a gig? Failed an audition? life goes on....). At the end of the day, there are very few performance moments that are TRULY life-or-death (I know that every one FEELS like it is, but in the bigger scope of things, they really aren't, man).

I've got no secrets for you except a reassurance that it gets better with experience, confidence that the bad experiences helped you at least as much as the good ones, and I encourage you to seek chances to try, succeed, fail ... whatever ... just go blow.
 

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I tell my students that the only people that don't mess up are the people that don't do anything.
 

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One of the "secrets" to playing well in front of others is to "over learn" the part or the piece you are performing. That involves practicing it until it is note perfect and the setting the goal of being able to play it without a single mistake five times in a row. That means if you miss the next to last note on the 5th time, you start back at #1. Once a piece is "over learned" to this degree, then when you get a bit anxious your reflexes will carry you through.

Another technique that can be helpful is to play the piece in front of others before the audition or tryout---such as your family or friends. Even playing for a tape recorder can feel like playing for an audience. An other suggestion that can help is to develop the ability to shut out everything but you and the music in front of you. If you can memorize the part, that's even better because you can shut your eyes and just play.

The one thing that you can count on is that the more you perform in front of others the easier it will become. For me the butterflies never go away completely, but they are no longer on steroids like they were when I was younger.
 

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Mistakes happen. No biggie.
If and when you do make that first 'mistake' during a playing test just tell yourself "Well, I got that out of the way."
All of the stress over making a booboo is gone. You've made it, and now you can relax and just play.

Another thing you can do that's kinda fun is to plug a video camera into your TV and practice.
It's a little creepy at first, but you can really learn a lot from watching what happens as it happens.
 

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In addition to practicing, the point is to maintain your focus on your playing, not on the mistakes. I find that the techniques for dealing with performance anxiety vary depending upon if you get most nervous before the performance (anticipation/worry) that carries over into it, or if the nervousness kicks in when you make a mistake (distraction/self-consciousness/self flagellation).

If I am worried/nervous before a performance, I think of that as energy that I need to focus and direct. I used to crank up the rock music on the stereo and dance around (best done alone) to just re-focus the energy. Or in places that doesn't work, use a silent mantra that puts you in the state of mind you need to be in. (When I was a prosecutor waiting in the hall to start a trial, it was "f**k you, f**k you, f**k you..."). Being jacked up isn't bad - take that excess energy making you shake and buzz and refocus it onto where it is productive intensity instead of random agitation.

Getting nervous when you make a mistake during a performance is a bit different - it is a distraction, you start thinking about the mistake, and what people are thinking of you, and whether you will do the next passage okay, etc. Choke! You need something to refocus your mind on playing instead of all the other garbage that is popping into it. Simple physical/mental tasks are good for this. Make a special point to focus on one or two things, like counting or supporting your tone, or relaxing your throat, or standing up straight, or popping those sforzandos and being crisp on the staccatos. This takes your mind off of the external things, and forces it back onto things that will help your playing rather than hurting it. It doesn't matter what it is if it works for you. When I played a lot of tennis, I would concentrate on putting my chin to my shoulder on my forehand - weird and simple, but it worked.

And finally getting to the place where you don't care. Art Lande said that people think he is creative, but really he just makes a lot of mistakes. Make 'em and move on!
 

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At my university, the Clarinet Studio and Saxophone Studio recently had a masterclass with the clarinet professor regarding performance anxiety. While this went on for over an hour, I can give you some ideas that we discussed that may help you:

1. Practice relaxing - How much time do you spend just relaxing? Not watching tv, listening to music, or sleeping, but doing absolutely nothing but focusing on emptying your mind. Take at least 5 min a day to practice this and if you can meditate like this for at least 1 our of the 5 minutes without thinking about anything then you're on a good start.

2. Practice - Obviously we practice so we can play the music. We must practice to the point where we don't have mess-ups. Practice slowly as well, I practice a new piece as slow as possible. It's about getting the muscle memory within the space between the notes. Once you have that down, you can start to focus on the other aspects of playing and it can be hard to actually screw up intentionally. Although with that said, you should practice everything all the time and never practice like: this time is about technique, then the next I'll focus on tone, etc... Practice everything all the time and slowly, it helps...

3. It's not about you... - ... it's about the music. As soon as you insert "I" into the equation, things will get messed up. Before you perform, try thinking to yourself "Time to make some music." I rarely get performance anxiety (last time I did was years ago) and I got over this but using this technique.
 

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Concentrate on the message, not the mess.
 

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Read "The Inner Game of Music."
 

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Read "The Inner Game of Music."
Yup. That's exactly what I'm doing now. Not so much for dealing with pressure, just as a general how can I better myself. I'm barely into it and have already been able to use what I've learned to teach my students about quieting the inner commentary that goes along with playing in front of people.


Sent from my iDevice using Tapatalk. Please excuse typos and brevity.
 

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Honestly, you're not going to ever feel comfortable or relaxed playing in front of people unless you do it more often, the more you put youself out there the less stressful it will be the next time you play. And Remember, it's all about having fun...
 

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Honestly, you're not going to ever feel comfortable or relaxed playing in front of people unless you do it more often,
Yes, for some people that works really well, for others, not so.

There are methods that will work for the second category.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thank you for all the generous help!!! All this information will surely help me out. I'm going to practice more and record my self. Then before I play have someone listen to me so it'll give me some comfort. Truly thank you for all the help everyone. I couldn't ask for more! A
 

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Hey,we've all been there, and at times, still creeps back up on some of us! I am very comfortable in a rock/blues combo setting, but in my own short-lived jazz trio, is was very nerve-wracking (partly because I was the band front and lead, and not just a another player! But, I forced myself into it, so I could get over it easier! It does actually work!).
 
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