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Fighting the Nerve

May 21, 2012 at 5:44 AM

This is my reflection on last week's poll Do you have fun when you perform? and my recent recital.

I have to say it's been a mixed experience for me. There were times when I really enjoy playing. But there were also times when my nerve completely ruined my performance. So I'm trying to analyze when I had fun and when I didn't and hope that I can try to always have more fun when I perform.

I had fun when I was asked to play at a church who probably never had a violinist in their band. There was no music sheet to learn and most of the songs are completely new to me. Basically what I did was just picking up the melody and trying to follow it or improvise. There was no expectation of what notes I should be playing, which probably made me feel less pressured. I have also started playing hymnal music at my church more often, and started playing well and enjoying it.

I have fun playing in the orchestra. Why? maybe because I can fake things when I can't play certain part :) Also, when I make mistakes it's not that conspicuous.

However when I had a recital 2 weeks ago, I got really scared days before the recital. And I remember during my recital last December, my hand felt weak an shaking for most of the recital although I did manage to finish it.

So here is my analysis of what makes it fun and not for me (and probably for most people too)

I had fun when:
1. I'm playing simple pieces that I know I can play well.
2. There is no expectation to make no mistake.
3. I can mess up without putting me in the spotlight :)
4. I'm getting used to playing that it becomes a routine, not a big moment that happens once a year thing.

I didn't have fun pretty much when it's the opposite of the above.

So in my attempt to learn to control and fight my nerve here is some of my countermeasure for each point above.
1. You pretty much have to practice and be prepared (Laurie's tips are really useful).
2. I figure this is just in my head. People watching you don't have expectation that you make no mistake at all. They want to be entertained and sometimes mistakes could be more entertaining than a boring robot like performance. That's why it's more interesting to watch live performance where you know there is a possibility of mistake. Nobody would go to concert hall to watch a pre-recorded performance from dvd or youtube.
3. Laurie's tips are probably useful again here, instead of thinking you are going to mess up, think of positive things and practice.
4. This is why I want to do more recitals and public performance. It's kind of exciting :)

For my recital 2 weeks ago, I tried to apply some of this thinking and in a way it helped me enjoy this recital more than the last one, even though I did freak out days before the recital because the Wieniawski that I had to play was really hard and I wasn't really that prepared. But I think the recording wasn't that bad though I did mess up quite a lot. Note: I'm an adult starter and have been learning for about 6.5 years so this is far from sounding professional :)

From Marsha Weaver
Posted on May 23, 2012 at 6:46 PM
Reynard --

Wish I'd known about your recital in advance -- I'd would have been there! The photos look like Reith Recital Hall, yes?

I feel lucky that my teacher doesn't require recitals (for her adult students anyway). I'm marginally OK performing with our little New Horizons Orchestra, but I'd be a basket case if I was performing solo (unless it was a "just for fun" event). It's surprising to me, though, that nerves don't get to me as much playing the violin as they used to when I performed on the piano. That's after about 2 years of violin studies and 13 years of piano. You'd think it would be the other way around. Go figure..... :)

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