Specific performance techniques for getting through a piece vs practice?

Discussions relating to the classical guitar which don't fit elsewhere.
rpavich
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Specific performance techniques for getting through a piece vs practice?

Post by rpavich » Tue Feb 13, 2018 3:20 pm

Hi,
I'm a new classical guitarist though not new to guitar; I played rock and stuff for 30 years. I have ALWAYS had anxiety over performing in front of people; all of my life. It doesn't matter if it's one person or 100 or 1000, I get shaky and self conscious. I've never been comfortable with it.

Well, I have a goal. My mom is turning 87 in May and she's got dementia and probably won't be too aware in may of next year, so when I do my yearly visit for her birthday, I'm going to rent a classical guitar and play her a solo rendition of "Happy Birthday" and two other easy pieces.

She's always been jazzed up at my guitar playing and I really think that she'd get a kick out of it but here is my problem; I KNOW that I'll have choking problems. I know that I'll be shaky no matter how well I know the pieces. I've always been a "bedroom player" and haven't spent a ton of time playing in front of folks.

How do you get through a performance while making small errors but continuing on? I've never "practiced" performing and tend to dwell on the negative.

Are there specific tips that you can give me so that I can do a performance, know that it wasn't perfect but get through it as if I were ok with it?

Rasputin
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Re: Specific performance techniques for getting through a piece vs practice?

Post by Rasputin » Tue Feb 13, 2018 3:24 pm

There are a few threads on this. I can't contribute much in the way of personal experience because I play for myself and my microphones, and that's about it... but one theme of the previous threads is that performing is a skillset in its own right and the best way to develop it is to go out and perform - so I would find some other people to perform for before the big day.

Moms are pretty easy audiences, I would think... most of them want to be impressed!

rpavich
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Re: Specific performance techniques for getting through a piece vs practice?

Post by rpavich » Tue Feb 13, 2018 3:29 pm

Rasputin wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 3:24 pm
There are a few threads on this. I can't contribute much in the way of personal experience because I play for myself and my microphones, and that's about it... but one theme of the previous threads is that performing is a skillset in its own right and the best way to develop it is to go out and perform - so I would find some other people to perform for before the big day.

Moms are pretty easy audiences, I would think... most of them want to be impressed!
Thanks, that's what I'm doing now; going through all of the past threads. I also want to enjoy playing in front of others as opposed to "waiting for my next mistake."

I know folks who play in front of others and clang-clang away and they just don't care...they LOVE it....I'm just not that way.

Ceciltguitar
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Re: Specific performance techniques for getting through a piece vs practice?

Post by Ceciltguitar » Tue Feb 13, 2018 3:56 pm

Stay in the spirit and the flow and the groove of the music and keep on going. Your audience is in the groove and enjoying the music.

Try performing the piece(s) for others in advance. The more you perform the pieces the better. And the sooner you start performing them the better.

Since "Happy Birthday" is a sing-along, try playing the piece with friends singing it. Maybe you have a friend or two that might help you out by singing it over and over 5 or 10 times with you playing along 5 or 10 times? Repetition performing helps!!! Repetition while playing with others REALLY helps improving at keeping a steady beat!!

WilliamSchart
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Re: Specific performance techniques for getting through a piece vs practice?

Post by WilliamSchart » Tue Feb 13, 2018 4:20 pm

Practicing for practice and practicing for performance may be two different things. Many when practicing will stop and correct mistakes when they happen. Whether that is a valid technique is something I will leave for another time. But when practicing for performance you need to keep on playing through mistakes. Certainly when playing in an ensemble you have little choice but to keep playing in tempo, but even in a solo performance if you do so many people will little notice and if they do notice mistakes, will soon forget.

In some ways, classical guitar helps in this matter. Much of what we do involves working out of chord shapes, so if you pluck the wrong string, the result will not be discordant at least, and if listeners are not familiar with the work, ay not notice it. Even other mistakes can be overlooked if you keep on going. Someone might momentarily notice something “was that a mistake?” but then not be sure unless you make some noticeable reaction.

rpavich
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Re: Specific performance techniques for getting through a piece vs practice?

Post by rpavich » Tue Feb 13, 2018 4:49 pm

WilliamSchart wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 4:20 pm
Practicing for practice and practicing for performance may be two different things. Many when practicing will stop and correct mistakes when they happen. Whether that is a valid technique is something I will leave for another time. But when practicing for performance you need to keep on playing through mistakes. Certainly when playing in an ensemble you have little choice but to keep playing in tempo, but even in a solo performance if you do so many people will little notice and if they do notice mistakes, will soon forget.

In some ways, classical guitar helps in this matter. Much of what we do involves working out of chord shapes, so if you pluck the wrong string, the result will not be discordant at least, and if listeners are not familiar with the work, ay not notice it. Even other mistakes can be overlooked if you keep on going. Someone might momentarily notice something “was that a mistake?” but then not be sure unless you make some noticeable reaction.
That makes sense. I've never practiced just continuing through mistakes. I always wince.

JohnB
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Re: Specific performance techniques for getting through a piece vs practice?

Post by JohnB » Tue Feb 13, 2018 4:58 pm

Two things come to mind:

- Practise playing through mistakes. Don't stop. Keep the timing (as far as possible) and don't let them disrupt your playing. (Everyone makes mistakes in real life - Bream certainly used to occasionally fluff notes but his performances transcended the mistakes.)

- Give some time to practising 'performance', i.e. imagine you are in the situation you envisage, visualise the people and surroundings, go through the motions you would if you were there - then play as though to an audience.

Another reason for practising performing is that when playing at home we (self evidently) play to ourselves. However, when playing for other people there is an element of projection involved - you are playing to them and projecting the music to them.

By coincidence I heard the percussionist Evelyn Glennie being interviewed on the radio the other day. She mentioned that, as part of her mental preparation, she would, say, envisage she was performing in the environment (she mentioned a cathedral).
Hermanos Conde 1968, Stephen Frith 2007 "Guijoso"

rpavich
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Re: Specific performance techniques for getting through a piece vs practice?

Post by rpavich » Tue Feb 13, 2018 5:04 pm

JohnB wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 4:58 pm
Two things come to mind:

- Practise playing through mistakes. Don't stop. Keep the timing (as far as possible) and don't let them disrupt your playing. (Everyone makes mistakes in real life - Bream certainly used to occasionally fluff notes but his performances transcended the mistakes.)

- Give some time to practising 'performance', i.e. imagine you are in the situation you envisage, visualise the people and surroundings, go through the motions you would if you were there - then play as though to an audience.

Another reason for practising performing is that when playing at home we (self evidently) play to ourselves. However, when playing for other people there is an element of projection involved - you are playing to them and projecting the music to them.

By coincidence I heard the percussionist Evelyn Glennie being interviewed on the radio the other day. She mentioned that, as part of her mental preparation, she would, say, envisage she was performing in the environment (she mentioned a cathedral).
Thanks, it appears that this is something that I have to start doing.

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ameriken
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Re: Specific performance techniques for getting through a piece vs practice?

Post by ameriken » Tue Feb 13, 2018 5:06 pm

rpavich wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 4:49 pm
WilliamSchart wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 4:20 pm
Practicing for practice and practicing for performance may be two different things. Many when practicing will stop and correct mistakes when they happen. Whether that is a valid technique is something I will leave for another time. But when practicing for performance you need to keep on playing through mistakes. Certainly when playing in an ensemble you have little choice but to keep playing in tempo, but even in a solo performance if you do so many people will little notice and if they do notice mistakes, will soon forget.

In some ways, classical guitar helps in this matter. Much of what we do involves working out of chord shapes, so if you pluck the wrong string, the result will not be discordant at least, and if listeners are not familiar with the work, ay not notice it. Even other mistakes can be overlooked if you keep on going. Someone might momentarily notice something “was that a mistake?” but then not be sure unless you make some noticeable reaction.
That makes sense. I've never practiced just continuing through mistakes. I always wince.
Yes, that's something I'm working on as well...practicing mistakes so to speak. Trying to continue on and recover from the mistake without getting so thrown off and nervous about it that the rest of the perfomance also goes downhill. As WilliamSchart stated, most people probably won't even notice unless we make a big deal out of it.

Before I ever heard Luis de Narvaez' Conde Claros, I watched 2 different recordings of it by Paola Requina. In both of them she makes a blunder, but I never ever recognized them as mistakes till later after I became more familiar with the piece.
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rpavich
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Re: Specific performance techniques for getting through a piece vs practice?

Post by rpavich » Tue Feb 13, 2018 5:12 pm

ameriken wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 5:06 pm
rpavich wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 4:49 pm
WilliamSchart wrote:
Tue Feb 13, 2018 4:20 pm
Practicing for practice and practicing for performance may be two different things. Many when practicing will stop and correct mistakes when they happen. Whether that is a valid technique is something I will leave for another time. But when practicing for performance you need to keep on playing through mistakes. Certainly when playing in an ensemble you have little choice but to keep playing in tempo, but even in a solo performance if you do so many people will little notice and if they do notice mistakes, will soon forget.

In some ways, classical guitar helps in this matter. Much of what we do involves working out of chord shapes, so if you pluck the wrong string, the result will not be discordant at least, and if listeners are not familiar with the work, ay not notice it. Even other mistakes can be overlooked if you keep on going. Someone might momentarily notice something “was that a mistake?” but then not be sure unless you make some noticeable reaction.
That makes sense. I've never practiced just continuing through mistakes. I always wince.
Yes, that's something I'm working on as well...practicing mistakes so to speak. Trying to continue on and recover from the mistake without getting so thrown off and nervous about it that the rest of the perfomance also goes downhill. As WilliamSchart stated, most people probably won't even notice unless we make a big deal out of it.

Before I ever heard Luis de Narvaez' Conde Claros, I watched 2 different recordings of it by Paola Requina. In both of them she makes a blunder, but I never ever recognized them as mistakes till later after I became more familiar with the piece.
I think that learning to just move on and don't stress on the mistakes would also allow me to actually enjoy playing in front of folks too. At the moment it's like medicine...tastes bad, necessary, but not something enjoyable.

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ameriken
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Re: Specific performance techniques for getting through a piece vs practice?

Post by ameriken » Tue Feb 13, 2018 5:30 pm

I know it sounds counterintuitive and counterproductive but I guess our new goal should be practicing so we get good at mistakes! :)
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soufiej
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Re: Specific performance techniques for getting through a piece vs practice?

Post by soufiej » Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:50 pm

Do a bit of reading on the subject; https://www.google.com/search?q=caroll+ ... e&ie=UTF-8

Great performers experience stage fright more often than most people think. Carol Burnett was petrified by stage fright to the point of throwing up before many performances. Even as a widely accepted "star", she had the jitters before walking on stage. Yet, what most performers like Burnett learn to do is, use the energy you are wasting in fear to your advantage.

Make the fear go away by turning the energy inward to calm yourself and outward to express yourself. Breathe deeply and regularly. Remember to breathe during your performance. Some people find it useful to have a talisman - or a series of actions - which they can touch prior to stepping on stage to send all of their fears into the object. Others find a word or two they can repeat to slow their emotions and put them in the proper place for a perfect performance. A loved one's name or that of a favorite pet can work. Or even a purely non-sensical thought or word can do the trick. The point it to send all of your negative energy into something other than your jitters. Which, if either, works for you, is up to you to explore.

This particular article might help if you are going to play for your mother; https://blogs.mprnews.org/newscut/2016/ ... l-burnett/

A hug is a powerful tool that works in both directions. Your mother's touch can put you at ease and spark a light in your mom's eyes that only her child can ignite. Don't think about the fear or even the music, just play from your heart and concern yourself only with your mom. Watch her eyes as they ignore everything else in the world. If you have a minor screw up, she won't even notice. Just continue to play like you meant to make that mistake.

rpavich
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Re: Specific performance techniques for getting through a piece vs practice?

Post by rpavich » Tue Feb 13, 2018 11:28 pm

Thank you and thanks for the links and encouragement

Alvisa
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Re: Specific performance techniques for getting through a piece vs practice?

Post by Alvisa » Wed Feb 14, 2018 9:13 am

Gary Ryan made a good analogy (and I paraphrase here) that when we make a mistake in performance, we should not consider it like running over a pot hole in the car and craning our neck in the rear view mirror for the next 5 seconds to see what happened. Instead, keep looking out the front where you are heading.
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rpavich
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Re: Specific performance techniques for getting through a piece vs practice?

Post by rpavich » Wed Feb 14, 2018 10:07 am

Alvisa wrote:
Wed Feb 14, 2018 9:13 am
Gary Ryan made a good analogy (and I paraphrase here) that when we make a mistake in performance, we should not consider it like running over a pot hole in the car and craning our neck in the rear view mirror for the next 5 seconds to see what happened. Instead, keep looking out the front where you are heading.
Haha...very good illustration!

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