Sunday, October 02, 2005

The Big Problem

Have been reflecting upon the first atrocious run of my music in front of my friends yesterday. Was totally repulsed by the fact that that run could actually be so much worse than any of my practices a week ago. I thought back on the mentality I had when I was playing yesterday and realised that all I had in mind was perfection and being expressive. I had wanted to be in perfect control of every single aspect until I didn't give the music space to breathe. Even the minor technical hiccups became so blatant until the music can't continue at all.

Just felt so guilty, especially when it is Bach's music which I was playing. And I find myself terribly selfish, for I have gotten so much from the music, yet I am unable to produce it the way it ought to sound in front of an audience.

I was practising the same piece today in a public place and some people stopped to listen. Wasn't perfect, but it was definitely much more natural than yesterday. Maybe it's because I wasn't expecting anything much, and of course I felt much better. Maybe I ought to adopt such a mentality and let go of the control I normally have in my practices when performing in front of an audience. I can't imagine what would happen if I go up onto the stage and desecrate the music. Guess I really have to find my bearing soon, due to the examininations and competition I'll be taking part in next year...


irene said...

hey jeff,

seeking that perfection badly may more often that not make it very elusive. Why not let the perfection flow in naturally since you're capable of it?

Ah and there's one quote I remember reading goes something like, 'practise like you'd perform and perform like you practise'. Does it make sense? I gather that it's something about being stringent and neat, aiming for perfection in every practice but when it comes to actual performing, it's about letting the music flow naturally in a more relaxed atmosphere. Well...somewhere along these lines. Yup...

Guan said...

Yea, I agree with irene. The trick on bringing out the music as you want it is to play it naturally.. as if there is no audience at all.. totally immersed in the music. That's the ultimate level to me. Just relax for now and enjoy the music.

Hucbald said...

The only way to become comfortable performing is to do it a lot. If you want to be good at practicing at home, practice at home: If you want to be good performing for an audience, perform for an audience.

I perform a minimum of three times per week, plus I play for Chruch services on Sundays. So, four times a week I'm in front of an audience. I am totally comfortable and never get nervous, but it wasn't always that way. I used to be VERY nervous in front of an audience and I HATED performing. Masterclasses were usually disasterous for me. I finally realized I just needed to perform more regularly to get over my stage fright.

What you do is work up to it. I started out by playing 30-45 minutes before Church services started. It was low key, low pressure, and the parishoners loved me anyway, so no problems.

Once I was comfortable doing that, I took a little weekly gig at an eaterie. There, I got to perform for THREE HOURS per night (That will do AMAZING things for your chops!). The owner liked me so much, he asked me to play two nights per week after a few weeks.

One thing lead to another, and within six months I was doing parties, weddings, art openings, playing at the university, and many other local events. I didn't even need a "day job" anymore (But I do have a luthier who mentors me on guitar repair now).

It's gotten to the point that I do my best playing in front of an audience, and not at home: I can simply bring a higher level of focus to bear when I am performing now. It's really cool. I was always envious of guys who bounced on stage and were comfortable connecting with an audience. Now, I'm that guy.