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Practise,practise..or is it really that simple?
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Teapot
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August 25, 2013 - 10:46 am
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As a beginner violinist and slightly more experienced pianist,the approach i most often hear about making progress on an instrument is simple : as long as you love what you are doing,a good teacher to guide you and enough practice is all you need.Which i can perfectly understand.It makes sense to me,however i feel that practice always seems to be a source of worry to me.Not the act of practicing itself,but the environment and surroundings in which i do so.

My piano is in the living room,obviously the most occupied room in the house.Since it is electric,i always play with the headphones on because i simply cannot do so with people listening to me.When the room is particularly busy,i feel unable to focus even with the headphones,because the clicking of the notes on the keyboard makes me selfconcious in the presence of others.So at times i am pathologically forced to play slower or quieter than the piece dictates.There has been many an evening when i didnt practice at all even though i desperately wanted to because of this,even though it has been made clear by my family that nothing about my playing is bothersome.In fact they sometimes ask me to play for them,which i always refuse to do.

The violin being by nature a loud instrument,practising my violin pieces is becoming even harder and harder.I started on an electric violin,which i always played on unamplified,with an extra mute on,in a small storage-like room and as many doors as possible closed between me and the rest of the people in the house.A while back i got a wonderful acoustic violin,which i adore,but i find that even with the heavy mute on i still dont feel confident playing.Doing so in the small room mentioned above is uncomfortable and tiring.But i cannot confine my family in one room of the house and close all doors so i can play in my bedroom-and i wouldnt want to,because i know it is bizarre.So i end waiting until everyone or almost everyone is out of the house to take out the violin and play.Which means that i cant have a set practice schedule and never know if i can finish a piece on time.Note again that noone objects to my playing:i just want to be alone when i do so.

I can use a spare room in my musicschool once or twice a week for a few hours to practise,but this only when the place is open so that  is not enough for me,and i want to be able to play every day.I just have a hard time making myself do it,making my self not feel self concious or uncomfortable,and that affects my progress.Playing music,and especially the violin,is something very personal to me.You can almost call it ''me-time'',i know it may sound odd.I need to do it in privacy to feel truly free, for some reason-my weekly lessons with my teachers being the exception to this rule.

Do you experience such ''shyness'' issues?how does one create surroundings in which they are truly comfortable?or how does one get over being so stuck in their heads about something that shouldn't be such a big deal?

i really do appreciate any sort of advice!

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pky
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August 25, 2013 - 12:33 pm
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First of all, don't worry about what other people think!! Pretend they are your teachers, you can play in front of your teacher, right? Especially if your family already said your playing is not bothersome to them.

The more you play in front of people, the more you get used to it. Use your family members as practice in front of people! Try to over come your self consciousness and be more confident in your own playing.

Have you tried getting up early or staying up late to practice when everyone else is still sleeping? If you put heavy mute or practicing on your electronic piano or violin with head set on, I don't think you will wake up any one.

 

 

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DanielB
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August 25, 2013 - 3:29 pm
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Well, Teapot, yes.  I definitely have some aversion some of the time to playing in front of others.  I always have, even when I was playing regularly in bands.  Not fear exactly, not sure if it is shyness in the usual sense either.  It is more a feeling of just being very self-conscious. 

I get past that rough first minute or two by focusing an my instrument and the sound, the song or piece.  For that first minute or two, the playing surface of the instrument is my whole world.  Then I can relax a bit at a time and let myself notice people. 

It generally isn't so bad when you actually do play in front of others, though.  Kind of like if you go to a party or any sort of social occasion, and you perhaps feel a bit out of place and self-conscious until you actually start talking with someone. 

Playing in front of other people can be rather like that, as well.  It is just a sort of a hurdle.  Some people get over that after they've played in front of others a while, and some don't really. 

It doesn't have to be a barrier, though.  And, believe it or not, you may still find that you actually enjoy playing in public even with it.  I do.  I make it a point to play in front of people every so often, so that it doesn't become a barrier.  Hurdles, we can cope with.  Walls, we don't need.  LOL

Nathan Milstein was a great violinist, and he had stage fright worse than most.

You do know that things like the clicks of your electric piano keys and also a good bit of the "noise" of a violin like bow "hiss" and even some of the scratchy sounds aren't actually even audible to listeners a few feet away when you're playing at a normal volume, right? Just one of those inconvenient facts of life, it always actually does sound a bit worse from the musician's place than it does from the audience..

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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Picklefish
Merritt Island, Fla
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August 25, 2013 - 3:36 pm
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You are hiding aspects of learning that everyone experiences. Your family and friends should support you and create a loving learning environment where you can be unafraid to take risks and fail. You can also practice in a park, at the beach, in a Wal-mart parking lot, places where there are people who really dont give a rip about you or what you are doing but, where there are people around non the less. Soon you will quit giving a care about what others think, and concentrate on playing for you.

as far as practicing goes this website answers it for me, perhaps for you as well.
http://www.bulletproofmusician.....-practice/

"Please play some wrong notes, so that we know that you are human" - said to Jascha Heifetz.

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Teapot
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August 25, 2013 - 4:11 pm
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thanks everyone for your help..

picklefish that site is rather useful!thanks for the link

i should specify that indeed my family and friends are supportive of my choices.Learning the violin and continuing my piano studies was something i decided on my own,and just went ahead and did it.I have performed many times in front of audience,playing school concerts or at small clubs with a band,so i can handle stage fright...i think this is where the issue comes in....practice time is not a performance for which you are prepared beforehand.It is the time to do all the repetive -sometimes boring- scales and exercises,play the same piece again and again till it is perfect...and that makes it much different from performing.It feels like a very personal,private moment,it is those minutes when it is just me,myself and the instrument.Almost like some sort of self-discovering trip.I think i need to work on ignoring people more i guess!

do you think i could benefit from discussing this with my teacher when we start lessons again in september?he knows generally how i am with practice,but not that my developing quirkiness is substabtial enough to start hindering it-especially since he seems to be very happy with the progress i've made so far.Hope he doesn't think i'm too weird..

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pky
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August 25, 2013 - 5:02 pm
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Teapot,

I understand what you meant by the repetitive of practicing. I mostly practice at work, I put heavy metal mute on (because there was a colleague who went and complained about my practice being loud), even then I was afraid of practicing pieces or parts repetitively would bother my colleagues, so I shut the door and windows, put the blinds down....and got myself all sweaty after practice.

It seems like you are more self-conscious in front of your family probably because it is harder to take criticism, even just a little bit, from your love ones. I also think you are a perfectionist, too. It is okay to be self-conscious and being a perfectionist, that's how you improve. Your family and friends understand that, too.

When I wrote my last response, I was thinking eventually you will have to face your audience...but you have already done that and have no problem with that. So, I will go with DanielB's suggestion: Focus on your instruments, techniques, and the music. When you are playing violin, focus on your bow hair - is it on the string or being tilted too much? is the bow straight? Is my fingering right? how's my intonation? Can I play this part right? .....Lastly, practice as if you are on a stage, and your family and friends are the audience:)

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Crazymotive
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August 31, 2013 - 3:53 am
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I used to only practice when everyone was away because I was embarrassed that my playing wasn't good enough for any ears other than my own. Then I just decided that I I need to practice regularly. Not just when nobody is home.So I just started practicing and got over the fear that while I am playing others in the house are cringing and saying "God is he awful !!".   Most of the time I get complements such as, "that sounded good" or "you improved a great deal". Often nobody say's anything because they just consider my practice to be an integral part of my daily routine. It's just a given that when I am home I am going to practice on and off throughout the day.  I might practice for 5 minutes and put it down for several hours and then I might pick it up again and practice for a couple hours. I may play a particular piece over and over, or work on a particular section of a piece, or, I may just do scales or etudes, or I may play a variety of different things. Some days I may even revive something I haven't played in months or, I may spend an hour trying to compose something of my own.  The only limits is that I tend to knock off practice between 11:00 pm to midnight as people are going to sleep.. Or if I do decide to play late at night when people are sleeping  I chose something slow and soft and play very lightly. I don't use a mute. Just very light short  bow strokes played near or over the fingerboard. Haven't woke anyone up yet. ;)  Also, playing in an orchestra has also helped me overcome my shyness. Because there I have no choice but to play among others and be heard by others. Only thing that might embarrass me is if they were to request I stand up and perform a difficult piece solo. But that is not very likely. :)

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Robyn.fnq
Queensland, Australia
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August 31, 2013 - 4:27 am
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Yes Teapot, you're not alone.  After many years learning the piano, I still can't play in front of anyone ... and that includes a video camera.  I just totally choke.

I don't have an electric piano, so I only play during the day when most of the neighbours are at work, but I've had some feedback from them to say they enjoy the music.  That just makes me worse.

The violin is worse for me, because I still sound so bad.  Sometimes I can play something quite nice, but again, when I turn the camera on to record, it goes to mush.

I don't know what the answer is, but I think if I had a group to practise with, or even a teacher to listen to me, I would probably eventually get over it.  I don't know.

I wish you luck, and hope you get rid of the jitters.

crossedfingers

If you think you can, or you think you can't, you're probably right.

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DanielB
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August 31, 2013 - 8:37 am
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I find video camera to be worse than playing in front of actual people.  With people, I'm over the nerves and can get into the playing by the end of the first song.

Video, I have to think about where I am in relation to the camera and where I am in the frame, and the sound quality is never what I like.  No way to really see the video while I'm recording to tell if I'm moving out of frame or just looking dumb.  Even if I could, it would probably be too much of a distraction to playing.

Recording audio, I have headphones on and can hear how what I'm doing works, so far as where I am in relation to the mic with distance and the angle of the instrument, and I can use that.

Video also lends to more critical viewing than live playing.  With video, people can replay it repeatedly until they find some little thing wrong with it.  Live playing, any minor boo-boos are forgotten quickly and your energy or "fun factor" can be a plus.  Playing live, if it worked and people liked it, it was right.  It was good.  No "dissection" is likely to occur.

People tend to compare amateur efforts to what they are used to seeing with professionally done video.  Many of the pros aren't actually playing for the video recording.  They do a professional audio recording, and then play to that several times to generate video footage for professional engineers to pick and choose from when making a produced and synched video that will look and sound good. 

Before anyone points out that professionals do get videoed live, I would remind that the video footage is still usually filmed by a trained crew with several camera angles and distances and it still will be edited and engineered by talented and skilled video folks.  That is a far cry from the "home movie" approach that most folks here can manage.

 

A bit of food for thought:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/scie.....t-23717228

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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1stimestar
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August 31, 2013 - 1:26 pm
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Yes, I too get self conscious in front of others, but not my kids.  They've been listening from day one.  I like that they got to hear the progression from dog awful screeches to something smooth and easier for me now.  They also get to hear the repetition and work that goes into learning a new piece.  They also get to see the time and effort, the practice that goes into learning something new.  It's good for them to see that even as a grown up, learning takes time and effort, but it can be done.  Now when I am working on a new piece or new skill, my daughter will say something like "Oh mom, that time you GOT it!"  I think me learning to play is good for all of us.  

 

Opportunity is often missed because it wears suspenders and looks like hard work.

 

Alaska, the Madness; Bloggity Stories of the North Country

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Fiddlerman
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August 31, 2013 - 10:13 pm
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Great ideas and tips from so many of you. Thanks

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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