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Old 01-02-2013, 11:09 AM   #12
Forum Gold Medal
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Dorset; England
Posts: 600
Default Re: Nerves getting the better of Pipers and Drummers?

I used to suffer from really serious performance fear. My friends thought I was mad, because in their opinion I was a good player. It was knowing what the standard should be that terrified me. I bought the Inner Game of Music, but it was little help. My solution was to play in front of total strangers, which is commonly called busking. It made a big difference.

The second part is to prepare in advance what to play, and stick to it. Thorough preparation is absolutely essential, because the fear is basically a lack of confidence. Confidence comes from proper preparation. Play your tunes every day until you can do them in your sleep. Three weeks should be enough for a performance, provided you play all the tunes every day to a decent standard. Two hours a day should be enough.

On Hogmanay I played in two Hotels. I still felt stage-fright, but nothing like the deeply unpleasant sensation of old. The audience just loved the music, and I was full of confidence. I focused on the music, didn't look at anyone directly, and brought my attention back to what I was doing whenever I began drifting.

Drifting is easy to do, because your attention is being drawn away by the sounds of the audience loving the sounds, loud singing along to Flower of Scotland etc., and just your own mind thinking. I simply focus on my hands, my blowing, squeezing the bag properly and blowing steadily, and execution.

If you make a mistake, carry on as if it was supposed to happen. Always look confident when you mess up. Note the when. No performer is infallible, and even the very best blow it from time to time. Just accept that it was your turn when it happens, and take it like a man.

Good performance comes from good preparation, and frequent performances. Constant exposure to danger reduces its terrors.
Noble and manly music invigorates the spirit, strengthens the wavering man, and incites him to great and worthy deeds. Homer.
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