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Post-Performance Woes and Disappointments


violinnewb

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As an adult learner, I had my first ever full concerto violin performance with a chamber group.  Leading up to the performance, I put in my time if practicing, mentally preparing, physically preparing, etc.  I did the study score, use metronome, play with recordings, listen to recordings, memorize, etc.  As a result, most of my performance went relatively well with more surprisingly good moments than bad.  

Having said that, I couldn't control my bow shakes even until the last few notes of the third movement.  I did not drink caffeine that day, no alcohol, no drugs, no stimulants period.  

Looking back at the recording, I feel regret, shame, and devastation at the very few moments I messed up.  Although none of the mess ups were truly that bad, I still have post-performance woes and disappointments.  

How do you guys deal with this?

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Ha, so familiar!  Because of this I don't do solo performances, I play for enjoyment, so why kill myself with dissapointments and regrets!

But, having said this, I have made great strides in overcoming most of the shakes of stage fright.  Mostly by gaining confidence in my bowing, and knowing what I cannot manage.  If I play what I can manage then I'm fine.  If I fool myself into thinking I'm better than I actually am, then when the difficult passages approach, I go to pieces!  

If I were younger I'd probably apply myself more, but at this point I want to preserve my 'happy place', and not stress about what I can't do.  Best of luck!

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4 minutes ago, violinsRus said:

Ha, so familiar!  Because of this I don't do solo performances, I play for enjoyment, so why kill myself with dissapointments and regrets!

But, having said this, I have made great strides in overcoming most of the shakes of stage fright.  Mostly by gaining confidence in my bowing, and knowing what I cannot manage.  If I play what I can manage then I'm fine.  If I fool myself into thinking I'm better than I actually am, then when the difficult passages approach, I go to pieces!  

If I were younger I'd probably apply myself more, but at this point I want to preserve my 'happy place', and not stress about what I can't do.  Best of luck!

Thanks for affirming some of my thoughts!

Yes! I spent the last couple of weeks prior to performing focused on my bow arm.  It helped tremendously.

Also, even with the disappointments in myself, I am still somewhat happy with my playing and experience.  I am unsure whether I want to do it again, but I think I would like to try.

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Yup...even after years of recitals...I still shake if all eyes are on me. But major episodes of bow shake have decreased. Now I muck up mostly on shifts...:wacko:. Because I am so tense...I tend to "stick" when I shift...and then am totally out of tune until I can find my comfort zone again.

I'm fine in ensembles...unless I have a solo bit...but since those are generally so short...it's not not so bad...

I just cope by pushing through it...nothing else to do at that point. If I muck up...I muck up. Accepting that I will muck up is actually relaxing, and I muck up a bit less.

I wish I had more opportunities to play in front of an audience. I think that would be a big help...because it wouldn't be such a big deal that way and not so stressful.

But! Congrats on performing an entire concerto!!! That's a great achievement! :D

Which one?

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30 minutes ago, Rue said:

I wish I had more opportunities to play in front of an audience. I think that would be a big help...because it wouldn't be such a big deal that way and not so stressful.

So therein lies the double edged sword.  Nerves in front of audiences, but need to perform more in order to eventually tame those nerves.  I envy younger students in that by the time they are Conservatory age, they have experience in performing.  This isn't to say they don't get nervous, but they have a one up on me as an adult learner.

Surprisingly, I barely had bow shakes during my slow movement! LOL

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Stage fright and performance regret are challenging issues for many of us! I've found what helps is a combination of physical work through Alexander Technique lessons, mental work in a variety of ways (there is a FB group called "Confident Mindset for Musicians" for instance), and the occasional beta blocker. I'm primarily an orchestral and chamber musician so solos are difficult, and auditions are brutal to survive. But that's what most of us have to endure to advance... it does get easier by doing it more, just like sight reading. But the challenge of it never really goes away (at least for me). 

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19 hours ago, GoPractice said:

Excellent.

Would it be possible to better explain Alexander technique? I completely embrace the principles and many many many friends are proponents.

I'm not sure I can put it into words that would be helpful. The general gist is that it is a set of activities and exercises that better align the body for the work you are doing. It is very popular with singers - most of the classes I've been to have been populated by singers and a few dancers, and then one or two string players. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Technique

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As to the performance anxiety, I think that I would rather just learn to use the anxiety in a positive manner.  Problem is, that would require a lot more public performances.  I don't get that luxury as an adult learner.

As to post-performance lull and void, this is where I really need help.  In addition to the post-performance emotions, I received devastating news about a family member after the performance and it just went s-uth from there.

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What are you doing this for, the audience's delectation or your own ambition? Was it a well-known concerto? Nobody wants to hear my rendition of a warhorse so I always try to find unfamiliar repertoire. The audience isn't expecting to hear a virtuoso and I always anticipate 10% slippage in performance so a few minor catastrophes don't bug me in retrospect.

 

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  • 1 month later...

In answer to Tenor Clef's question -"Yes" you can get it via prescription from your medical doctor - I did/do.

It was late in 1951 and I had just turned 17. I had been playing violin and cello solos around my central Maryland county for a few years - so this was to be a "piece of cake,: playing a couple of old English ditties on violin for my senior high school English class. My bow started to shake, I did not feel nervous, but I could not control the shakes. I went home very upset about it; my mother told be it was "stage fright." The next June I played Saint-Saens "The Swan" at my high school graduation with no problem (although solo cello-bow shakes finally intruded around 1965), but I never again played a violin solo without the shaking problem until 1977 when I learned about using beta blockers (such as Propranalol while participating in the San Diego Chamber Music Workshop.

I got a prescription from my doctor as soon as I returned home and have used it for every solo, trio, and quartet ever since. In fact, for solos in front of an orchestra I made a special point of bowing all the way to the frog just to prove to myself that I could do it.

I was never knowingly nervous about making mistakes when I played, but after that first incident my concern was about "the shakes." I was just as concerned when taking the beta blocker pills that first time, but once it was clear that they worked - no problem!

Now, in my 90th year, I use a beta blocker to suppress "essential tremor' (familial) when I play, even in ensemble rehearsals. Now the shakes have nothing to do with solo playing - I shake when holding a pencil or a cup.

As I wrote before, as little as 5 mg does the job - actually even 2.5 mg (cutting a 10 mg pill in quarters).

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On 11/13/2023 at 11:08 AM, violinnewb said:

As an adult learner, I had my first ever full concerto violin performance with a chamber group.  Leading up to the performance, I put in my time if practicing, mentally preparing, physically preparing, etc.  I did the study score, use metronome, play with recordings, listen to recordings, memorize, etc.  As a result, most of my performance went relatively well with more surprisingly good moments than bad.  

Having said that, I couldn't control my bow shakes even until the last few notes of the third movement.  I did not drink caffeine that day, no alcohol, no drugs, no stimulants period.  

Looking back at the recording, I feel regret, shame, and devastation at the very few moments I messed up.  Although none of the mess ups were truly that bad, I still have post-performance woes and disappointments.  

How do you guys deal with this?

I know you replied to my recent thread on my first public performance and wanted to comment here.

I had some shaky bow and part of it was driven by not being able to do what I usually do in those situations where I’m in front of an audience doing a work related presentation.  My method for relieving anxiousness in these situations is talking about ANYTHING unrelated to what I’m there for and engaging directly with somebody in the audience.

For me, this creates a one to one conversation rather than one to many.  If I’m standing up, I’ll wander to the front row of the audience to FEEL like I’m part of the audience while presenting.  This is usually enough to kill the jitters for the duration.

Naturally, this wasn’t an option for our ensemble performance.  Not sure how I can manage this for the future but I do think next time will be easier.  The fact that I want to have another go after last week is, in my mind, a good sign.

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