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#3027588 09/21/20 05:23 PM
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There have been lots of "stage fright" posts. I have a new story of my own.

I've been doing a fair amount of public performing -- singing and drumming, mostly. I've been in a choir with a few hundred people in the audience, and performed regularly in my synagogue for 25-100 people.

I have been playing a shofar (a Jewish ritual instrument, a cleaned-out animal horn with no mouthpiece) for decades. It's used seriously one day per year -- Rosh HaShana -- which has just passed. I've been playing it for my synagogue for years, in front of a few hundred people. No problems at all.

But yesterday, because of Covid-19, our services were held outside, and Zoomed.

. . . The young man holding a phone, broadcasting what I was doing,
. . . completely threw off my concentration !

So what came out of the horn matched what was going on inside my head -- weak, confused, and generally unsatisfactory.

I'd practiced enough to get through the event, albeit imperfectly. But I was too anxious to put much spirit into my playing. The audience might have accepted it, but I knew how much was missing.

So my suggestion is:

. . . If something is going to be different about a performance --
. . . different piano, different hall, different audience --

. . . . . prepare for it _in advance_.

Professionals have "seen it all", in long careers. Us amateurs can still be surprised, and discombobulated.


. Charles
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Great advice, thanks!


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I feel your pain Charles. I was doing a simple Taize service a few years ago. Stuff I usually don't have to think about playing. Different church and a heavy action piano and I was sweating playing.


All these years playing and I still consider myself a novice.
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Oh I agree! It's funny how sensitive we can be. The first time I tried to record myself with the camera on a full-sized tripod sitting behind my right shoulder, up to its full height so that the camera was pointing down at the keyboard... the presence of the tripod, you would have thought I was surrounded by demons! whome

So that took a while to get used. But I remembered that experience when I decided to start online lessons, and so the day before my first lesson, I set up all the equipment and practiced that way. I'm glad I did because otherwise it really would have thrown me.

I find that objects in my peripheral visions can be very distracting, so part of it is that. But the rest is just that there's something new in the environment and it pulls your brain away from the music and onto something totally irrelevant.


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Charles , this is familiar to me, as well as the explanation of such a force majeure. Simple question: how many times between New Years do you pick up the shofar? You are also trained on the street?
We are not all getting younger; and at some point, the habitual confidence that everything will work out, like last year, can suddenly deceive.

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You cannot prepare for everything. You'll never know what will happen that will throw off your concentration. So you'll need to prepare for just this mental state - loss of concentration. You do this by practising when you are distracted, or even distraught. Maybe, usually, when you feel this way, you would postpone practising - this huge thing has happened, I cannot practise now! No. When you feel that you are in no state to be able to practise, you practise, and your practice is aimed at finding focus and concentration. On playing as well as you can, in spite of all those thoughts and feelings upsetting you.
Then, when you have to perform, and you find that something is upsetting you, you have some experience in how to direct your attention back to your music.


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Since I started performing regularly, I've also taken every opportunity to play on public pianos - train stations, airports, shopping malls, the lot. I've been drowned out by all sorts of noise and been videoed, chatted to (whilst playing), applauded, requested to play everything from The Godfather to Amadeus (I kid you not) as well as Bach, Schubert etc.

I still get performance anxiety....... cry


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I kept my windows open during the high holidays just to hear the shofar being sounded outside by various synagogues while I cooked my holiday food. You can hear it for miles. How’s your t’kiah g’dolah? When the cameras are off, of course, haha!

As for stage fright, I agree that one little change can make the difference between comfort and anxiety. It’s hard to predict what will throw you but I try to anticipate the obvious things!

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Charles, I'm sure you've still managed to move the listeners and invoke some holiday spirit!
Being in lock down, I barely felt any of that spirit here so it's nice to read your stories.
Shana Tova!


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Originally Posted by TwoSnowflakes
I kept my windows open during the high holidays just to hear the shofar being sounded outside by various synagogues while I cooked my holiday food. You can hear it for miles. How’s your t’kiah g’dolah? When the cameras are off, of course, haha!

As for stage fright, I agree that one little change can make the difference between comfort and anxiety. It’s hard to predict what will throw you but I try to anticipate the obvious things!

That must have been nice!

A few years ago, I read an essay on "t'kiah g'dolah" ("long sound", blown at the end of a set). It said that the tendency to make it _as long as possible_ -- red face, squeezing out the last bit of air -- was a distraction from its meaning:

. . . If the congregation was betting on when it would end, their minds were in the wrong place.

Since then, I've ended my t'kiah g'dolah as soon as my air pressure starts to drop. So it's not extremely long, but it's very clean.

L'shana tova to everyone, and thank you for several useful suggestions.


. Charles
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I've gotten quite a bit of practice playing for friends lately. With mixed results, but usually not too embarrassing. But last weekend I played in a friends house and the lighting was not good. I had trouble seeing the keys. So naturally, that threw me off. I was thinking about not being able to see and not thinking about playing, so my performance was worse than usual.

Younger players had no problem - but as an old man I need more light.

Sam


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I've taken to bringing my clip on light with ten leds if I don't know what the lighting will be like. Younger people, including some teachers, just don't get it as they can practically see in the dark! I've even bought lights for a couple of my teachers! 😎

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Originally Posted by dorfmouse
I've taken to bringing my clip on light with ten leds if I don't know what the lighting will be like. Younger people, including some teachers, just don't get it as they can practically see in the dark! I've even bought lights for a couple of my teachers! 😎


We must be twins, because I have done exactly the same thing: clip on music light for performances, and purchased a standing music light for my last teacher. I got tired of squinting to read the music. ( The clip on light is also great as a flashlight during power outages) 😊


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
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Good lighting and a nice pair of reading glasses are my friends while I am at the piano bench!


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