Discussion in 'General' started by pianolady, Feb 17, 2010.
That's my problem these days - I can't concentrate...
well....guess I don't have to wait four more days. I just opened my email and there was the notification.
(eek! - I've never done anything like this before... :shock: )
Good, now go study! :lol:
It's a kind of matter of course, when you were not in, who would be in?
Have much fun at preparing!!
Congratulations! I'm so very happy for you. I thought you'd make it... the judges know good when they see it :wink:
May you have many merry hours of practicing! (But not too many! As I recently learned, do not overpractice and get a hand or arm injury. Take lots of breaks and don't get tense. :wink: ).
Thank you, Sarah. You've been cheering for me for awhile now, and I very much appreciate what you and everybody else has said a lot!
Good advice - I'll try to be careful, although I already have problems with pain so...well....at least I have a big bottle of ibuprofen at the ready!
I just wanted to say congrats to you ! I'm so glad all your hard work has turned out to be profitable.
Even if rarely post on the forum, I often come here to catch up with your news... so I'll wait for next episode now
Good luck for the second part !
Hi Henri, and thank you!
The next episode will be the hard part (all the practicing) - or maybe actually the episode after that (the competition) will the hardest. I dunno - I'm thinking that I'll be in a daze by then....
btw - I'm wondering if any members have every tried beta-blockers? A friend of mine is trying to convince me to try them. She says that taking beta-blockers among performers/musicians is more common than you think. Anyone have an opinion about this?
Monica, I had to google to know what is the beta blocker...
It's medication, thus has side effects, too, right? I wouldn't take it. I believe the self-trust is more important. :|
Actually, the literature says there are no side effects, plus they are non-addicting. From what I've read, beta blockers sound very tempting. Performance anxiety (stage fright) always, always, always gets the best of me! and if I can get a handle on it this one time, I would be happy. But we'll see - I'm going to talk to my doctor about it soon.
While I haven't used beta-blockers myself (yet... :wink and so cannot vouch for side effects or positive improvement from using them, I do think they may be a good alternative for those who have bad stage fright. I was recently reading a book (Gerald Klickstein's Musician's Way - he has some articles on the topic here http://musiciansway.com/performance.shtml#Stress ) and the author was quite positive about using them, especially in high-stress situations (and competitions certainly count as that! :wink: ).
To avoid any suprises, I'd just try them out by using them several times while playing for family and friends; you can record the performances and critique them later so that you can know exactly how beta-blockers affect you personally.
Thanks for that information, Sarah. Also good idea about trying them out beforehand. If I go ahead with taking bb's, I'll post the results here.
Congratulations Monica! You are now at the start line of this marathon run!
I thought I'd share some relevant thoughts, without getting into pharmacology, on the topic of beta-blockers since a few musicians are already curious...
Never take beta-blockers without consulting a physician. If you're intent on using them, you have to experiment with the dosage in different situations under medical supervision, way before any performance. These medications, such as propanolol (inderal), block the adrenaline (epinephrine) receptors that cause the "fight-or-flight" response. Blocking beta receptors can cause lower heart rate, decreased force of heart contractions, bronchial constriction, uterine contractions, decrease blood pressure, decrease in tremor, and relieve migraines. If a patient has asthma, diabetes, Raynaud's Phenomena, or congestive heart failure, beta-blockers should NOT be prescribed.
The side effects are minimal when used in lower doses, but may include dry mouth, low heart rate and blood pressure, rash, cold extremities, fainting, lethargy, etc. Beta-blockers don't inhibit cognitive abilities. They don't improve your muscle timing. A musician's response may vary due to dose and/or efficacy. Peak response occurs in 1-1.5hrs, so you need to time it just right.
I've never took them or needed them myself. However, there are other options if you don't want to take medications.
A Non-Medication Approach: Redirect your anxiety in convincing yourself that you have a story to tell. Use your talent, technique, and understanding of the music to conquer the judges and audience. Identify your anxiety symptoms - sweaty palms, racing heart, shallow/rapid breathing, forgetfulness, upset stomach, etc.? For example, if you have rapid breathing or heart rate, learning relaxation techniques prior to a performance will help. Or if you have nausea or other stomach problems, taking a simple pill to calm your GI might help. Positive thoughts and reminding yourself of your strengths can reduce negative thoughts as well.
Thank you, George, and thanks for the information. I'm not totally decided whether I'll try the bb's or not. But those other options you suggest don't work for me that well. I've tried!
I just want so badly to be able to play/perform as well as I can as like when I'm in my own living room. I'm very frustrated at the whole thing, so that's why I'm considering options. I have an appointment to see my doctor this coming Tuesday.
But I'm also wondering if you (or anyone else here) has ever been hypnotized? I have not and it actually that scares me more than the drugs. But at least it's natural, sort of...
Monica, I'm afraid no one among us amatures is able to be so. Everybody has more or less stage fright...
Anyway I hope your doctor will help you!
Hi Monica, I thought you were intent on bb so I didn't go into any detail with other options that are available. However, I am not sure that you'll benefit from a quick remedy with the alternative methods as they require more time and practice to implement. Yes, hypnosis can work, but I'd rather go up on stage than to go through that.
Remember you're not alone up there as everybody will have stage fright. Amateur or professional, there is always stage fright. Sure, if you've been playing in recitals on a regular basis, it will make the entire experience much easier. My teacher used to say that you lose 30% of your entire performance right off the top because of the stage, wrong notes, etc. I had slips in my rounds, it wasn't perfect. You can't play 100%, no one can, and you won't have to be at 100% even to win. Anxiety will always coexist on stage. It's not anxiety that you're combating, it's fear itself. Allow the love of the music to be more powerful than the fear itself. You'll learn to affect a change in attitude as you overcome fear with a greater force, that being the power of music. Think of yourself as a messenger on stage, communicate that message effectively.
If you have a choice, inquire to play first on the program. Worse than stage fright is having to listen to all the other pianists while waiting for your turn. That's what happened to me. Out of 6 finalists, I had to go on last - Zoinks!
Perhaps good news: In your case, you might actually play first if they're going in alphabetical order... Yay! (Applause!)
Oh, George - I wish there was a way for you to come with me and say all these things to me right before I have to play. And I am not going first - the schedule is not alphabetical. I am to play on the first day - the 9th player - 11:36 in the morning to be exact. And I just noticed something - there were only supposed to be 50 competitors, but there are 61 scheduled. Oh well....
Monica, I am going to tell you to face fear with a smile. That is the first step. It's a good start to disperse negative energy that can build up. The second step is to remove the word "competition" from your vocabulary. It brings excess stress that you don't need. "Tournament" might impose a more sedate psychological state. Now you can proceed... If I was anywhere near Chicago, I'd meet up with you to give you all the confidence and advice.
Practice the most difficult passages in your pieces separately. If you are prepared, the fingering is secure, there is no need to become worried, frustrated, or panic at any point. Once you have mastered the pieces, you have to part with the living room mentality, and devise ways to accept the stage as your new path. Fall upon your experiences in recitals. I don't need to remind you (maybe I should) about your prodigious output of recordings. Every time you see that red record light, you know what it's like - the spotlight is on you. You've done it so many times that you are already conditioned to deal with such situations... Perhaps more than you think.
Remember some of the things I said earlier in the thread. In addition to the common relaxation techniques, try yawning followed by deep breaths to give you more oxygen and energy before your turn; make sure your fingers are warm; take your time on stage to make sure of your bench height, distance, pedals, any debris/moisture on keyboard; carry a handkerchief with you; and wear comfortable clothes (not too warm/cold) and shoes (I hope you found them. Oftentimes we play faster tempos on stage, and can get into trouble fast. I've done this. Therefore, it's important that you have the tempo in your head before your hands are on the keyboard. The last day should be spent sleeping, no practicing, because you'll only second guess yourself.
Everyone handles stress and anxiety a little differently. Convince yourself that you will perform better under pressure and stress. I encourage you to embrace whatever comes your way and conquer it. You'll soon realize that the anxiety will be there, but will not pose a larger threat to your performance. Even if it's not in your temperament, your frame of mind has to remain calm, collective, and rational at all times until you play the last chord on stage. Tune out what the others are playing, please! Focus on your message, your music!
Make the process fun... And remember the importance of starting your routine with a smile...
This is all great advice, George. And I've told these things to many other people many times, but it's different and a little strange to hear it directed towards me! I think I'm going to make a list with your and everybody else's words of advice and keep it near my piano.
I have to say something now, though - and I hope you don't take it badly because I so much appreciate your (and all other members) time spent in trying to encourage me - but I have to stop thinking like how I've been thinking lately. Actually, when I first became aware of this competition, I had a different mindset. I saw the competition simply as something fun to experience - I'd be among other people similar to myself, get an insider's look at how competitions are run, and learn about and hear lots of piano music.
But then in a short period of time, I began to think that, ok I'm actually a competitor and thus have to push myself to practice more and more, and who am I competing against, etc.... Then yesterday I looked at the list of competitors and randomly chose some names and searched for them online. I found some of them on Youtube and turns out that at least one of them was a winner in another amateur competition and another one was a finalist in yet another competition and they are both very good players and play harder stuff than I do, and well....it made me think that the people running 'my' competition must have needed someone on the lower end of the scale (like me) so they can have an easy time eliminating contestants in the first round. I may be a big dreamer, but I'm also practical-minded and know that I don't have a chance in hell in making it passed the first round - not with all these other competitors who are much better players.
All this has brought me back to my original train of thought, which is, and like you have said, to think more in terms of simply enjoying myself and being happy to be in the competition in the first place. That's all. So, from now on I will try to stop bemoaning how scared and nervous I am and all that, and just try to stay focused on getting my music prepared to the best of my ability. Also, there really is something more important that I must think about: What should I wear? :lol:
One more thing - If I start getting all weird again - thinking like an actual competitor - please and I mean Please! tell me to knock it off - that I am supposed to be having fun with this, which is exactly what you and the others have said and of which I totally agree (but I still may need reminding...er...did that make sense?...you know what I mean, I hope...sorry this got so long).
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