Performance anxiety

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Making your musical performance the best it can be

by Dr. Caroline Hong

From the Secrets to Mastery Series

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About the author, Caroline Hong

As winner of the Chicago Civic Orchestra Soloist Competition, Caroline Hong made her debut in Orchestra Hall in a performance of Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto under the baton of Michael Morgan. She has competed internationally in the Van Cliburn International Audition, the Robert Casadesus International Competition, William Kappell International Piano Competition, UNISA International Piano Competition, and was selected to compete in the Montreal International Piano Competition. Caroline Hong made her debut at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall as the winner of the Frinna Awerbuch International Piano Competition, and has received numerous other prizes, including Distinguished Performer of the Palm Beach International Piano Competition, Laureate of the Beethoven Foundation, shared 1st prize of the Society of American Musicians, and 1st prize in the Music Academy of the West Piano Concerto Competition.

In 1981, she was named Orange County’s Best Pianist, and in that same year was a winner in the Bach Festival of Southern California. She has been a featured performer on Robert Sherman’s ‘Young Artists Showcase’ (New York Times Radio) and numerous other radio broadcasts throughout the nation as well as abroad in Pretoria, South Africa.

Before the age of three, Caroline Hong began the study of piano with her mother. Her most influential teachers since then include Sergei Babayan, Martin Canin, Jerome Lowenthal, Dmitrii Paperno, and Ann Schein. She has participated in the master classes of John Browning, Leon Fleisher, Charles Rosen, Menahem Pressler, and Gyorgy Sebok. She has been a collaborative pianist for the studios of Bernard Adelstein, Joseph Gingold, Janos Starker, Camilla Williams and Yuval Yaron (protege of Jascha Heifetz), as well as for the Peabody Concert Singers, Peabody-Hopkins Chorus, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Chorus, and Baltimore Choral Arts Society.

Entering the Peabody Conservatory at the Johns Hopkins University at age 17, she completed her B.M. through an accelerated program with honors recognition, and received her M.M. from the Juilliard School by the time she was 21. She holds a D.M. degree in Piano Performance from Indiana University with minors in Music History and Music Education, and where she served as an Associate Instructor in Theory, and in Piano. Currently, Dr. Hong is on the faculty as Associate Professor of Piano at The Ohio State University.

Inside this Book

Making your musical performance the best it can be by Dr. Caroline Hong

Practicing without concentrating will not help you achieve your best performance
Be honest about how much you are really practicing
Don’t be concerned with what others will think of your playing
Recognize that you will be nervous before a performance
Practice Running Through Your Pieces for a Friend
Make the distinction between practice and run through
Know what you want to do with every single note that you are playing
Sonata Allegro Form
Balance Muscle Memory with Visual Memory
Voicing and Upper Arm Weight for Pianists
Preparation of a Full Recital Program
Do Your Homework
Performance Venue considerations
Physical considerations
Two week chart of recommendations to follow prior to performance

Product Details

Pdf ebook – 18 pages
View (print) with Adobe Acrobat Reader

Publisher – Kanoochie Publishing (September 2006)



Guide to dealing with performance anxiety for all instruments

excerpts from the publication

This is a set of guidelines for my college level music students, and all others interested in performance, designed to help you achieve your best possible musical performance. How many of you have practiced seemingly endless hours and wondered why your experience on stage was not what you thought it would be? Do you come off stage and ask yourself, “Why didn’t it go better? I practiced so much and it was fine in the practice room”. Or maybe you don’t have those problems; maybe you are even labeled “talented”, and want to make sure that you don’t experience this particular type of disappointment. Still, there are some of you elated by the response of applause, or the ‘high’ of performing, and think that it went much better than it did; only to hear or view the tape later and find that it really wasn’t all that great. Time and feeling on stage are quite different than they are in life, and the point of this discussion is to help you feel and play better under the moment of pressure – not just one or the other, but in combination with each other. Feeling good and performing successfully encompasses many things, including your practice habits, your attitude towards the unfamiliar, your coping mechanisms, ability to meditate, focus and concentrate, and a myriad of physical and psychological factors.

This is not really a discussion on phrasing or practice methods; those are the focus of lessons. Nor is this a discussion on the main goal of performance, which is to communicate and connect with your listener. But the topic of practice, not practice methods, will necessarily be touched upon. What is considered “natural knowledge” to the born or experienced performer will be shared with those of you who are still trying to perfect your performance ability, and you have a lifetime to do it. Granted, many of the world’s greatest performers hit the stage from an early age, but there are still things that everyone can do to maximize the time you devote to practice. Topic. Previously, I considered knowledge in this area to be common, but found that I repeated myself quite a bit lessons and coachings to my students of all ages, and all levels over the last 10 years of my teaching career. I have extracted those things that remain consistent regardless of the level of my student, or the relative interest in performing well, and put them into this paper.

Observation No. 1: Practicing without concentrating will not help you achieve your best performance!

Muscle memory alone will not hold up under pressure if your mind is “checked out” during practice. There is something about playing in front of an audience of hundreds that will force you to want to concentrate. If you don’t develop this skill, you will not reap the benefits of your practice. Playing through your pieces over and over without imagining what it will be like to perform in front of others will definitely create those brain lapses when you least want them. The trick is to focus during your practice in the way that you will want to when you are on stage.

2. Be honest about how much you are really practicing.

Many of you check into your practice rooms and spend more time eating and socializing then you do practicing. How then, do you expect to memorize your pieces over a ten week period as you prepare your degree recital? If you are having problems, check out the chart at the back of this paper and keep diligent records of how long you are practicing each piece. It is important to take breaks every 45 minutes, or every hour, but my recommendation is to take a break outside the practice room. You can walk around (but not into someone else’s practice room!) There is always a shortage of practice rooms. If you would rather socialize, leave the room so that someone else can use it. In some environments, not necessarily ours, some people enjoy disrupting other people’s practice time; it makes them feel that they have a psychological edge. That kind of behavior is for, some, conducive to feeling good about performance, but since she/he is not focused on their own practice, that is time wasted on nonsensical competitiveness . For the rest us, practicing bad mental habits like that only destroys the performance experience. Learn how to politely tell your colleagues that you will need to work today, and schedule some time to hang out or talk later.