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Thread: nervousness when playing

  1. #1
    Senior Member Igneous01's Avatar
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    Default nervousness when playing

    Ive been having alot of issues with my violin playing lately, everytime my tutor comes over and wants to hear how i sound on a particular piece i start getting really anxious and drop the ball on my playing big time. It frustrates me so much as to how I could play a piece so well when i was practicing alone, and then completely drop the ball (intonation, tension in my arms, posture not stable).

    I really wish I knew what i had to do to make myself feel more relaxed when playing infront of people, but for somereason i either feel to selfish to let someone else hear me play, or feel a slight fear of being judged for poor playing.

    does anyone else get like this too? and what do you suggest I do to relax myself?

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    Senior Member Rasa's Avatar
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    I used to have this. And as far as I know, there are two things you can do:

    1. Play infront of people more: whenever somebody visits, or you go somewhere, bring your violin and play a piece. The more you do it, the more used you'll get to it. It's a mental step to take, but one you have to take asap. Otherwise it'll only grow worse. (If you're a kid, advantage: everybody likes kids playing. If you're not: too bad).

    2. Practice more focused, and practice playing by heart very focused. If you learn every detail of a piece: what's in every measure, how do the measures combine into phrases, where are the technical difficulties, how do these difficulties cadre themselves in the phrase etc. you'll be a lot more comfortable playing infront of people, even if you don't play by heart infront of them.

    You say you play the piece really well on your own, but check if you really do. Often enough I hear what I think I should be playing rather then what I'm playing. A good tip for focused work is to record yourself. Often enough the result will surprise you.


    I myself used to be extremely nervous when playing before people in my first year at conservatory, so I know what a pain it is. Doing both these things got me completely over it.

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    Moderator mamascarlatti's Avatar
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    You could try this book:

    The Inner Game of Music
    Natalie

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    Senior Member Couchie's Avatar
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    Rasa's recommendations are dead-on for how to kick the nerves long-term, with emphasis on forcing yourself to play in public whenever you get the opportunity.

    Right before a public performance people also:
    1. Reduce stress with breathing exercises (highly effective if done properly)
    2. Take Propranolol (if nothing else works)

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    Senior Member TresPicos's Avatar
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    This resembles very much the widespread fear of public speaking. I guess you could get some pointers from books etc that address that problem.

    I also agree with Rasa. Know your stuff well. And face your fear.

    How did you become a good violin player? You practiced.
    How will you become a relaxed violin player? You practice.

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    Senior Member Rasa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Couchie View Post
    2. Take Propranolol (if nothing else works)
    I've actually thought about using medicine to control nervousness. I suppose it depends: if you're an amateur it seems a bit extreme.

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    Senior Member tdc's Avatar
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    Clearly it would be best to try all other options before using the medicine. I still would never use it, it would be just a crutch. How horrible it would be to be dependent upon a chemical to give performances.

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    Senior Member Meaghan's Avatar
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    Recording yourself is a good idea. I hate recording myself (well, mostly I hate listening to it), but I do it often because it makes me notice things about the way I sound that I don't hear while I'm playing. Also, the act of recording feels to me a lot like performing, so it helps me practice playing well in a situation that makes me nervous, without there being another person there to judge my mistakes.

    I have found that a good way to work up to performing for teachers and other critical people is to perform for noncritical people who ideally don't know much about how you ought to sound. Family is good for this, as well as other people with whom you have a relationship that is in no way connected with your musical ability.

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    Senior Member Rasa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tdc View Post
    Clearly it would be best to try all other options before using the medicine. I still would never use it, it would be just a crutch. How horrible it would be to be dependent upon a chemical to give performances.
    I disagree. If an abnormal level of nervousness reduces your skill, then why not take it? It would be a shame not to be able to play.

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    Senior Member tdc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rasa View Post
    I disagree. If an abnormal level of nervousness reduces your skill, then why not take it? It would be a shame not to be able to play.
    I only suggested the OP try all other methods first and that I personally would never take the medicine.

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    Playing in public as often as you can (try busking!) is the main key here. Relaxation techniques can also help.

    Taking medicines because of advice from a stranger on an internet forum is unwise at best. PLEASE talk to someone medically trained before you even think about it.
    How many second violinists does it take to change a light bulb?
    None. They can't get up that high!

    (I am a 2nd violinist in a local amateur orchestra, and this is accurate).

  12. #12
    Senior Member Igneous01's Avatar
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    thanks for the suggestions and responses, much work to do in resolving my issues with it.

    btw - im not so much afraid of public speaking (never really had problems with stuff like that)

    music seems to be the only problem - maybe im just not being honest with myself

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