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Managing nerves


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#1 helen_flute

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 14:28

I'm wondering if anyone has any tips for managing performance nerves? I find it really difficult not to feel anxious about playing in front of people, and as I'm planning to sit my flute Grade 8 later this year, I'd quite like to be able to manage this better. It's more a general anxiety than a specific fear.

 

I sat a music exam last year and my nerves weren't nearly as bad as I thought they might be, so I'm trying to keep that in mind, but I thought it was worth picking others' brains for any top tips people might have.

 

Thanks!


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#2 corenfa

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 16:32

For me, a large part of it was practising performing.
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#3 Sylvette

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 16:49

I agree with corenfa.  The more you perform, the easier it becomes, although the nerves never completely go away.

Really knowing my material makes a big difference to my confidence.  Try to give yourself plenty of time so that you are not rushing into the venue at the last moment.  If you are having problems with physical symptoms (shaking hands, for example), beta-blockers from your GP may help.

Take every opportunity you can to perform, even if it is only to your OH or the cat, and make sure that even if you fluff a note, keep going and keep smiling (can you smile while playing the flute?).


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#4 helen_flute

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 16:56

Sounds like I need to bite the bullet and play in front of other people more often. At the moment, it's only my teacher who hears me play. Although my other half hears me practice, it's never a proper "performance". I suspect I could subject my parents to a performance at some point as well. Not sure their dog would be so keen, mind you!

 

I do get the shakes at times, but sadly can't take beta-blockers due to asthma. It's a pity, because I think they might help with some of the physical effects.

 

Perhaps imagining smiling would work, rather than actually smiling! The mind is a powerful thing, after all.


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#5 Sylvette

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 16:59

You could well be right!


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#6 Arundodonuts

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 17:37

Try to find some ensembles to play in.


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#7 Acciaccatura

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 19:51

A few other ideas: 

 

- Practice recording your performance (you have to go through to the end of the piece even if you made a mistake or started badly).

 

- Ask someone to tell you to stop and go at random times while you play your pieces. This really helps me with getting them under the fingers and it makes you certain you can take it up from a mistake anywhere.

 

- Try playing in the park/ in the fields, somewhere you know you can be overheard, but no-one will see you (I have a favourite place in some trees behind a small hill, and like to imagine people wondering where the music comes from).

 

- Try busking. You don't have to go to the High street at the busiest time, next to a church in an empty street in the evening works too, and suits flute music better, I think. Or find a spot that suits the music, anyway.


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#8 fsharpminor

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 20:09

Eat a banana (or two) half an hour before the performance


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#9 Misterioso

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 10:58

Hypnotism can be helpful for some. I tried it a few weeks ahead of a flute exam and it helped enormously.


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#10 Solari

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 13:10

I've been tempted to try hypnotherapy. When I started out I wasn't really that bothered about playing in front of others but I've gradually got more anxious.

 

Saying that I managed to play a few pieces from memory on a piano in a train station on Wednesday with quite a few people around and managed to keep going through a couple of slips so that was nice! I managed to get into a mental space where I wasn't paying any attention to my peripheral vision so didn't care who was around.


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#11 ejw21

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 16:02

Another vote for practice performance, it definitely helps! Also if you can record yourself (there are apps available which will do an OK job) it does help - it's weird hearing yourself back (I found it weird to start with) but you hear any mistakes really clearly. 


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#12 sbhoa

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 16:35

I've always been badly affected with nerves in exams. In other performance situations too but not quite as badly.

As part of my preparation for DipLCM piano I managed both on my own and with the support of teachers and friends to set up various performance opportunities, mostly with feedback at the end. Mostly the audiences were very small, sometimes only one or two people but it did help and I managed to hold it together in the actual exam.

Trouble is it can be much harder to do this when you need an accompanist and could potentially get costly.


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#13 helen_flute

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 18:25

Some really good ideas, thanks everyone.

 

I'll definitely try and organise some performance opportunities, even if it is just my family. I like the idea of hypnosis and recording myself too. Not so sure about busking though!

 

I already play in a wind band, and was asked last night if I wanted to have a go at the piccolo solo in one of our new pieces. My immediate reaction was to say no, but on reflection, I'm going to tell the band leader I'll give it a shot (never having played a piccolo before!), as that seems like a relatively benign way of performing in front of people, at least until our summer concert when it would be in public!

 

And I have to ask...what do the bananas do?


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#14 Ilewydh

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Posted 12 January 2018 - 19:58

Some really good ideas, thanks everyone.

I'll definitely try and organise some performance opportunities, even if it is just my family. I like the idea of hypnosis and recording myself too. Not so sure about busking though!

I already play in a wind band, and was asked last night if I wanted to have a go at the piccolo solo in one of our new pieces. My immediate reaction was to say no, but on reflection, I'm going to tell the band leader I'll give it a shot (never having played a piccolo before!), as that seems like a relatively benign way of performing in front of people, at least until our summer concert when it would be in public!

And I have to ask...what do the bananas do?


Bananas apparently contain a natural beta-blocker. Many people swear by them but they make no difference to me, but then again I take beta-blockera for a medical condition and I still shake like a leaf!
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#15 Thepianist

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Posted 13 January 2018 - 05:57

Make sure you know the pieces inside out, that way you become more confident knowing you aren't going to mess up. On every single one of my exams my hands have been a trembling mess. But I never hit a wrong note because I know the pieces inside out.
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