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Old 04-17-2019, 12:14 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jun 2017
Location: Falkirk Scotland
Posts: 28
Default Controlling nerves

I am 66 year of age started learning 3 years ago joined a local band, but I have great problems trying to play along with other members of the band. At home I have no problems the minute I try to practice with the other band members my mind goes blank. I have only played the pipes 3 times in front of people on my own, only a couple of tunes even then I struggled to remember the tunes, I get very nervous and really doubt myself. Anyone any tips on how to relax or am I just to old, I did have a tutor until 2 months ago was getting a lesson once a week. Have been so embarrassed with it that I can not build the confidence up to go back to band practice
Any advice would be greatly appreciated as I am about to give up.
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Old 04-17-2019, 12:38 PM   #2
3D Piper
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Default Re: Controlling nerves

John Cairns has a free article on performance anxiety (among a wealth of other info):


Also James Laughlin at Come2Drum has an ebook 'No More Nerves':


Don't give up!

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Old 04-17-2019, 12:50 PM   #3
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Default Re: Controlling nerves

Thank you Mathew will have a look at the links was meant to go to band practice tonight but the nerves got the better of me
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Old 04-17-2019, 01:15 PM   #4
Patrick McLaurin
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Default Re: Controlling nerves

I do not experience the group caused forgetfulness when playing the highland pipes. But that’s been almost 2/3 of my life.

I do experience forgetfulness once in a group with all my other bagpipes (gaita, uilleann, english) that I’ve picked up in the last year. I’m not sure there’s much to do other than just keep going at it and don’t feel embarassed as it’s something we all have had to work through. Only way to get your brain to be able to cope with all the new sensory input of playing in a group is to, you guessed it, play in a group.

Lastly, if you’re coming up on a difficult passage, you will mess it up even before you get there if you let your thoughts go wild with anxiety. Just make sure to consciously relax, don’t worry about it, and the experience of making it through a few times will boost your confidence.

Last edited by Patrick McLaurin; 04-17-2019 at 01:18 PM.
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Old 04-17-2019, 01:40 PM   #5
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Default Re: Controlling nerves

1) you cannot control nerves. They are part of the adrenal rush. Thatís simply part of the deal. Some of the best musicians and athletes on the planet throw up backstage.
2) you can reinterpret the sensations you are feeling. You can view them as excitement and energy, and use whatís happening inside you to your advantage.
3) bulletproofmusician.com - pay for the eBook. Subscribe to the blog. Noa Kageyama is incredible.

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Old 04-17-2019, 02:32 PM   #6
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Default Re: Controlling nerves

Originally Posted by Mojo52 View Post
Any advice would be greatly appreciated as I am about to give up.

When playing with others, your own playing must be essentially automatic, so that all your attention is on listening and watching.

Go to a practice, put a cork in your chanter stock, and play drones for an evening while watching and listening and running through the tunes in your mind.

Lastly, you've done the difficult bit. You are 95% of the way there. The last 5% where you have to cope with other people can *feel* like a lot, but it's actually not a big step: it's just the fight or flight reactions which are handy for dealing with surprise lions, less so with entirely expected bagpipes.
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Old 04-17-2019, 03:33 PM   #7
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Default Re: Controlling nerves

Thanks everyone for the advice, looks like I will have to try and get back to practicing with the band.
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Old 04-17-2019, 04:35 PM   #8
John Blunt
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Default Re: Controlling nerves

I like to run through a visualization of what I'm going to do, with the memorization of the tune (running through it either 'pantomiming' the notes or playing outright), setting the scene mentally and 'seeing' me doing it right and all my hard work coming out as I practiced. This way, when the real event occurs, you've already been there, succeeded and only the beer tent awaits. Rewards are always good for you.

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Old 04-17-2019, 07:25 PM   #9
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Default Re: Controlling nerves

Greetings!!, and Salutations!!, Mojo52!!, :)

From your profile... a couple o' things emerge...

A couple o' years on the pipes... and the same
here on the Forum.

And... you are warmly welcomed... aboard both!! :)

First and foremost!!... No!! ... You are not ...too old!!

From your profile... it says... "EE"... and motorbikes. :)

Well, ya haven't got hold of a wire's wrong end... and
gotten yourself fried... :)

And... motorbikes?! Hmm... I would hazard that you
just don't look at them... but that you actually get up
on them... and ride th' bloody beasts!! (And... you're
still here... with us. :) (I've laid down a few... :)

So perforce... and quite obviously... it ain't... th' lack
o' brainpower... nor any lack o' nerve... (Getting back
up on any kind of bike... can be a damned sight harder
than getting back up... on a horse!!) (And few o' those
as well. :)

So... if I may proffer a thought... a possibility...

Take up your record player... cd player... etc., et al...
and play along with any of the single pipers or bands
that you fancy... strike-ins and all... on the tunes that
your band plays... until you're dead-straight comfortable
with them... and then have another go at playing with
your teacher... and after a comfortable bit o' that... have
another go... at the circle. (They'll be happy to see you!!)

Little by little... Small step... by small step... and then...
... Bob's Your Bleedin' Uncle!!

And then... the parades... (Sigh...) (Oh God!!)

My first time out... thousands of people... and I was
just bloody... terrified!!

Sure... I could play rather well in my parade band's
circle... but parade?! So many things to do... and
all... at the same time!! (Step, dress, double-beat
change of tune... and not to mention... the stinging
salt sweat in your eyes!!...) And the last thing in this
world that I wanted to do... was to be any sort or
kind... of public... embarrassment... to that lovely
group of people that had taken me under their wing...

But just as with preparing to sit an EE exam... or
learning the nuances of a particular (and sometimes
rather difficult) bike... and at high speed... and around
a soaking-wet corner... when... not if... but when... you
get to that... other side... of the matter... then all comes
'round right... and you find it all... small price to pay!! :)

Later on... down th' pike... you may find yourself in a
well-earned position... to help another... through it all. :)

Worry not!! Fear not!! You will get through it!! (We did. :)

Just keep after it!!... It will come!!... Promise!! :)

Warmest Regards... and... All the Best!!


My friends all know,
With what a brave carouse...

Last edited by Pip01; 04-17-2019 at 07:33 PM.
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Old 04-17-2019, 08:52 PM   #10
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Default Re: Controlling nerves

One thing that I found really helped me with getting a bit more comfortable in the circle was making a recording of the band playing at practice and then using that to practice with back at home. Having the commands called, the drums and other pipes to listen to, and visualizing it all each time I practiced all helped me get past the point where it was all a bit overwhelming.
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