Jump to content


Photo

Tension whilst playing


  • Please log in to reply
12 replies to this topic

#1 Misterioso

Misterioso

    Virtuoso

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 5791 posts
  • Member: 13351
    Joined: 18-July 07
  • Outer Hebrides

Posted 11 February 2019 - 13:55

This has always been a big problem for me, both in teaching and learning scenarios, and whether playing alone (especially alone) and in ensembles. I would really like to try to find a way around it, so I am reading The Inner Game of Music and Mastering the Art of Performance, but still the problem continues.

I know it's important to be aware of the reasons behind the tension, so here is a list (in no particular order) of what I believe my main tension-inducers to be:-

 

  • I am an edgy, live-on-my-nerves kind of person;
  • Fear (of drying-up, having a mental blank, making mistakes, etc) because I am also a perfectionist;
  • Public performance of any kind (this really freaks me out);
  • Not being very good at relaxation;
  • Problematic joints affected by Rheumatoid Arthritis;

....and a list of the solutions I have thus far tried:-

 

  • Beta-blockers (for big tension-inducers like exams);
  • Hypnotherapy;
  • Bach's Rescue Remedy;
  • Bananas;
  • Practising tension-releasing exercises taught to me by a primary school teacher as I waited to take an exam on one occasion;
  • Bailey's (yes, I know - hardly ideal!)

I have just watched a link posted by a forumite on another thread, and envied the relaxed, fluid movements of the pianist - although this doesn't just happen to me on piano, but on any instrument, to the extent that it affects my performance if almost anyone is there apart from myself. I am attempting to learn pipe organ now, and always have to time my practise sessions for when I expect the Church to be empty - although obviously it is an instrument that is supposed to be heard. 

 

Can anyone offer any tips / advice / tension-releasers that they have tried and found helpful?

 

Many thanks in advance.


  • 0

#2 Norway

Norway

    Virtuoso

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 4464 posts
  • Member: 452922
    Joined: 05-May 12

Posted 11 February 2019 - 14:34

My shoulders get sore from cello playing and so in the shower I aim the shower jet at them for quite a while. (Returning to cello now to inflict a bit more damage!) rolleyes.gif

 

What did you do with the bananas?


  • 1

#3 Misterioso

Misterioso

    Virtuoso

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 5791 posts
  • Member: 13351
    Joined: 18-July 07
  • Outer Hebrides

Posted 11 February 2019 - 17:30

My shoulders get sore from cello playing and so in the shower I aim the shower jet at them for quite a while. (Returning to cello now to inflict a bit more damage!) rolleyes.gif

 

What did you do with the bananas?

 

Um - I ate them (potassium and all that...)


  • 0

#4 Sautillé

Sautillé

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 102 posts
  • Member: 897314
    Joined: 15-February 17

Posted 11 February 2019 - 21:21

2 bananas.... 45 minutes before ????????????
  • 0

#5 Cyrilla

Cyrilla

    Maestro

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 14579 posts
  • Member: 99
    Joined: 09-November 03
  • Croydon, South London/Surrey

Posted 11 February 2019 - 23:20

Have you tried Alexander Technique?

 

:)


  • 0

#6 Flowerpot

Flowerpot

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 77 posts
  • Member: 705971
    Joined: 27-March 13

Posted 12 February 2019 - 18:03

I think the usual combination of yoga/Alexander technique/Pilates is a good way to go, but also seeing an Osteopath (or Chiropractor, depending on how evidence based you’re feeling!) could really determine what some of your underlying issues may be. your RA is potentially a factor too, but that doesn’t mean you couldn’t still make some adjustments. Core strength has a bigger factor in piano playing than people realise as well I think, especially when it comes to playing over your “midline” (when your right hand plays low on the keybord or when your left hand plays up high).

If you think it’s mostly anxiety induced then I think a lot of the techniques in the Inner Game of Music are great. Voicing your concerns out loud or writing them down can take away their importance. Perhaps look at finding a coach or instructor of your own?
  • 0

#7 ejw21

ejw21

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 430 posts
  • Member: 820271
    Joined: 18-July 13
  • Skipton, N Yorks

Posted 13 February 2019 - 14:41

The Inner Game is great and I also second an osteopath/yoga/alexander technique. 

 

You do also mention finding it hard to relax. Have you tried any sort of guided meditation? I find that can also be v helpful.


  • 0

#8 ma non troppo

ma non troppo

    Prodigy

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1221 posts
  • Member: 76027
    Joined: 23-September 09

Posted 14 February 2019 - 11:26

For tension during performance I have quite a large range of activities and exercises that I use, especially with adult students. I have developed them over the years and borrowed from various teachers I have had. I have had a lot of success in curing my own tension problems and those of others. Looking at how we physically "play the piano" and the mechanics of how the parts of our body naturally operate is important. Interestingly, one of my teachers was a Tai Chi teacher too and I learned a lot from him.

With regards to performance anxiety, that is related to tension but also to how we feel about ourselves. There is a lot I can say about this and I really do think it can be cured over time, with adjusting our own views of ourself and with some positive mental games we can play.

This, and tension, and the way I help to over come them are such a huge topic and I would have to physically demonstrate to explain more.
  • 0

#9 Misterioso

Misterioso

    Virtuoso

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 5791 posts
  • Member: 13351
    Joined: 18-July 07
  • Outer Hebrides

Posted 14 February 2019 - 11:31

Many thanks for the replies and suggestion - I appreciate it.

 

Have you tried Alexander Technique?

 

Actually, yes, although only briefly as part of an instrumental teaching course I undertook some years ago. Unfortunately, we don't have an Alexander Technique teacher on the island - otherwise I would feel very tempted to give it another go. However, I found when I did it before that I got more tense from trying to make my body work in a different way and worrying about whether I was getting it right. I practically have an Honours Degree in worrying!

 

 

I think the usual combination of yoga/Alexander technique/Pilates is a good way to go, but also seeing an Osteopath (or Chiropractor, depending on how evidence based you’re feeling!) could really determine what some of your underlying issues may be. your RA is potentially a factor too, but that doesn’t mean you couldn’t still make some adjustments. Core strength has a bigger factor in piano playing than people realise as well I think, especially when it comes to playing over your “midline” (when your right hand plays low on the keybord or when your left hand plays up high).

If you think it’s mostly anxiety induced then I think a lot of the techniques in the Inner Game of Music are great. Voicing your concerns out loud or writing them down can take away their importance. Perhaps look at finding a coach or instructor of your own?

 

No osteos on the island either! Yoga, however, is something that I have always had an interest in, but is limited by my RA. Although it is now pretty well controlled by means of a plethora of medication, since some of it was begun soon enough it resulted in damaged joints (especially shoulders, wrists, feet and ankles) which obviously limits what I'm able to do - no Downward Dog, for example, or anything else which requires me to put weight through my shoulders. I could beneficially introduce some moves, though, with the help of a book and a family member. As I write this, I am aware of my shoulders being up round my ears (an unfortunately common place for them).

 

Despite that, I do think it is mostly anxiety-induced. I have tried meditation, and it makes me fidgety and my mind darts onto other things, which is not the aim! I know that can improve with constant practice, but it's something that I just can' "get".


  • 0

#10 Misterioso

Misterioso

    Virtuoso

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 5791 posts
  • Member: 13351
    Joined: 18-July 07
  • Outer Hebrides

Posted 14 February 2019 - 11:39

For tension during performance I have quite a large range of activities and exercises that I use, especially with adult students. I have developed them over the years and borrowed from various teachers I have had. I have had a lot of success in curing my own tension problems and those of others. Looking at how we physically "play the piano" and the mechanics of how the parts of our body naturally operate is important. Interestingly, one of my teachers was a Tai Chi teacher too and I learned a lot from him.

With regards to performance anxiety, that is related to tension but also to how we feel about ourselves. There is a lot I can say about this and I really do think it can be cured over time, with adjusting our own views of ourself and with some positive mental games we can play.

This, and tension, and the way I help to over come them are such a huge topic and I would have to physically demonstrate to explain more.

 

Thanks for your answer, ma non troppo, which just came through as I was writing the other post. I think looking at how I play, and also how I feel about myself is more likely than anything else to be the way forward. It's hugely reassuring that you feel it can be cured over time, although I appreciate this would take a lot of work. I've done CBT before, especially with a view to depression, and found it helped, so I know this kind of approach can work. 

 

I appreciate that it's a huge topic, but I wonder if you could suggest any resources that might introduce me to some helpful ideas?


  • 0

#11 ejw21

ejw21

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 430 posts
  • Member: 820271
    Joined: 18-July 13
  • Skipton, N Yorks

Posted 14 February 2019 - 13:21

 Misterioso, I completed the 8 week MBSR mindfulness programme this time last year. It's normally an in person thing, but there are a few online 'providers'. I have come across https://www.britishm....uk/mbsr-course or https://bemindful.co.uk/be-mindful-online/ from a quick search. If you found CBT helpful in the past then maybe this will be of use to you (I also had a CBT related stress reduction course, before the mindfulness). There is more info at http://mbct.co.uk/


  • 0

#12 ma non troppo

ma non troppo

    Prodigy

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 1221 posts
  • Member: 76027
    Joined: 23-September 09

Posted 17 February 2019 - 18:54

A reply to Misterioso... I don't have any obvious recommendations of resources that you can access freely. Most of my research and practical application has been influenced by lessons with various teachers myself and by my own independent observations and studies. I like to solve problems myself and I am not "follower" of any one method. All I know is that I am a "hands on" teacher who has had a lot of success in this area... not just for others but in solving my own tension issues. I would have to have a physical consultation to help anyone, or to help another teacher to help their students. I have thought about writing a book but I don't think it would translate.
  • 0

#13 michael N

michael N

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 239 posts
  • Member: 309573
    Joined: 02-September 11
  • W.York's UK.

Posted 19 February 2019 - 22:52

Very recent discussion here: http://forum.pianowo.../2817480/1.html

There's an awful lot to take in. The advice right at the bottom of page 2 seems very good to me, especially the bit about slowing right down. Then there's the following link. Interesting but I'm not sure it's for everyone. 

https://blog.twedt.com/archives/768


  • 0