Mind games while playing and Hope vs.

May 16, 2005 at 04:37 AM · I was wondering:

How do you people deal with those little voices in the head, while playing in an exam/audition/competition?

Trying to relax, to feel like it is a regular concert, telling yourself that the judges don't want you to play badly and that they are after all just human aswell?!

That's the kind of stuff I'm trying to think when one of those little voices got through but somehow it doesn't work, I can't just focus on the music and have fun...

And another wondering; no question everyone wants to do his/her best and tries and practises as hard, much and good as possible but putting that aside, do you try to not get your hopes up, be very realistic and maybe even think less of yourself, which might affect your playing, this thinking your not gonna win a prize or get a job anyway causing some "I-don't-care"attitude, which will be evidently noticeable in your playing OR reaching for the stars, thinking one can do anything, wanting nothing more than this job or that prize and so on, risking a huge dissappointment afterwards?

I didn’t find out what works better for me ( just to have a good feeling ) and in the end, whatever you do, noone knows how decisions were made…

P.S.: I’m Kasia, new to this interesting board after reading it for weeks with great excitement I finally decided to join…

I’m a violin student from Germany, 23, currently studying Masters, playing comps, auditions and stuff like that. Just wanted to introduce myself cuz it seems to me, than many of you people know each other.

Replies (7)

May 16, 2005 at 07:01 AM · Well, you just do the best you can and feel excited about the reward, and if you get rejected you figure something is wrong with them rather than you as a defense mechanism:) Be open to the idea that they might have something to tell you though.

For nerves, and all the symptoms you describe, the only solution I know of is playing in front of people, hopefully with a good reception from them, until it goes away. There is probably a level that always remains, but it is no longer incapacitating, or even unpleasant. A lot of people in effect take care of this by finding a church to play in every week or something similar. Or play at the coffeehouses on open mic night if you're an atheist :) Speaking in front of people is probably almost as good, if you have opportunities to do that.

May 16, 2005 at 11:42 AM · I really wish I could help you, but I suffer with the same issues.

I have noticed that those who have no problem going on stage, don't see it as a big deal. Maybe they are a different breed of people who have no issue taking all their hard work and life dedication and putting it on stage for others to hear....maybe they are focused on giving music as a gift rather than being judged. I think I fear being judged...worry I haven't done enough work or am not skilled enough, and these little voices prevent me from seeing anything else about performance but a judgement. Those who can get up and play must have other priorities or other things in their mind. I wish I knew....

May 16, 2005 at 12:14 PM · Piatigorsky said that before every concert he knew that there is an electric chair waiting just for him on the stage...

The way to fight it is to think about useful things. When you just go and play without thinking about what you do you let your mind wonder and naturally it comes up with even more scarry thoughts.

If you constantly think forward on what you need to do at a given moment and in the piece in general you will be a lot more in control and you will constantly think of something constructive so your mind won't have time to really get stressed.

May 16, 2005 at 08:52 PM · What helps me to perform my best, is to go onto that stage with a positive, really confident (arrogant almost), attitude. If I know I am going to play great, before I perform, than I actually will play great.

Having doubts in yourself and fretting is not what you want to do. It is hard to get over nerves, but having a little nervousness is good, it can give you an edge. As long as you have it under control.

Literally, if it takes for a person to say out aloud "I am an amazing violinists, and I will blow this audience away", then they should say it. As many times as neccessary. It really has helped me a lot.

May 17, 2005 at 01:44 AM · I suggest reading both the Inner Game of Tennis and the Inner Game of Music (both are extremely similar in principle, I just find reading both of them makes everything sink in that much more). It talks about ways to deal with such things.

The biggest thing, for me, is trying to remain as level-headed as usual. When we practice, we all find we can play much more smoothly and brilliantly. Things just fall into place because we are not being judged (and therefore not judging ourselves as much). Before I perform, no matter how big or small it is, I try to get as close to my "practice feeling" as I can. By observing everything you do, such as breathing, posture, motions, and feelings, when you practice, you create a subconcious awareness of what it feels like to be relaxed. The big trick is being able to dig that up at the right times and not to let the pesky "dude" (as my eurhythmics teacher would call it) creep up on you.

If all else fails, and there are some times when nerves just take over, then do deep breathing. Almost always works. Breathe in for three counts and out for seven (or some variation thereof, depending on how you breathe and your lung capacity).

June 9, 2005 at 08:12 PM · Mental peparation is certainly the key. Audition Mastery Guide available, as well as mentor network. Visit www.craneclassical.com

June 10, 2005 at 04:35 PM · Greetings!

I think you need to go for a specific goal, while playing a concert. In my opinion you should obtain three things with your music:

1) the public should LEARN something about the composition, how it is built (in terms of melody and harmony),

2) the public should ENJOY the music, you have to show the beauty,

3) you should touch the public EMOTIONally.

I believe this is the most difficult task of a musician and if you can reach this, you are really a great artist.

It's of course easy to say what you need to obtain, but HOW... I'll try to explain a little bit.

First of all, to feel self-assured on stage, you need a well prepared practice. Never go there by chance: if you make a mistake, correct it by playing it at least four times right. That will give you a chance of 80% to get it right on stage. You can also practice without violin, mentally, and imagine exactly the movements which need to be done. Like that you immediately find out which places are uncertain and where your memory fails (when you have to play by heart).

This is for the technical preparation. Now the musical preparation. It's here that you prepare to obtain the three goals. During your practice, it can be useful to imagine you are two persons at the same time: one playing, one listening. Imagine you are in the public and you hear a world-known, great artist, who is touching you emotionnaly, who shows you the beauty and the structure of the music. I think it's important to forget about technique on that moment and to hear in advance how the music should sound, that you know what you want and you do all your best to get what you want. It has just to do with your mind, nothing with your hands or with the violin. It's wrong to think you have to many technical problems to produce a beautiful sound or that your violin is too small to have a big sound. You are far more limited like that. Let your brains and your heart command them.

I personally don't walk in an arrogant way on the stage, I'm always afraid the public will feel that. Just communicate with them like they are friends, think about a concert like it is a feast. On the other hand, don't feel yourself smaller than the people in the public because you are maybe younger and less experienced. Be convinced and make they take you serious.

Ok, this is a huge subject, and I surely didn't say everything about it, but I'll stop here.


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