On the spot

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Queeg2000, Feb 20, 2018.

  1. Queeg2000

    Queeg2000 Member

    Really annoyed with myself today. In band practice last night, I was put on the spot to play a passage that I had been finding tough. I have practiced it quite a lot at home to the point where I was as confident in playing it correctly as I was in the rest of the piece.

    Well after 3 attempts last night it could only be described as awful. Had I not practiced it then that's to be expected, but I could play it at home in my sleep.

    Well I've got it off my chest now. And will be practicing it a lot more (even taken a copy to work to look at at any opportunity)
  2. ari01

    ari01 Active Member

    It happens to the best of us!!
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  3. Queeg2000

    Queeg2000 Member

    I would never call myself a perfectionist, but I get really annoyed with myself when something like that happens. I want to learn the part parrot fashion before next practice.
  4. Tom-King

    Tom-King Well-Known Member

    Learn to accept it - it happens to all of us, putting yourself under pressure by letting it get in your head will only make it harder.

    It takes both the ability to accept it and move on AND the motivation to practice so it's less likely to happen... Then you've stacked the odds well in your favour.

    Stay positive, that work ethic will definitely stand you in good stead
    2nd tenor likes this.
  5. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    Been there, done that, got the ‘Tee Shirt’. Come to think of it I’ve got at least one for every day of the week.

    By all means practice it some more but will it change the reasons why you ‘muffed up’ in rehearsal? I doubt it. The person with the real problem here is your Conductor: they failed to coax from you the performance that you were and are capable of. That’s maybe a harsh thing to say but it’s still, IMHO, true.

    I’ve been in more than a few bands over the years and played under loads of different Conductors, some were better than others and some were just wrong for me at that time. My current Conductor is, I think, a Star: under their Baton the Band ends up playing quite a bit of stuff (well) that really was beyond our capability. Somehow that improvement is coaxed out of us and we’re enabled to play better.

    What’s next for the OP? Well, I improved a lot in such situations when I developed a ‘sod it’ mind set. One that says ‘I am playing this and will play this as best I can, I am allowed to make mistakes and the only person allowed to judge my playing is me’. That’s not to say that constructive and supportive comments won’t be welcomed with open arms but rather a mindset that deflects the others and so empowers me to ‘do my best’ and to make progress.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2018
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  6. Queeg2000

    Queeg2000 Member

    Second Tenor has got a valid point. I've played under better conductors in the past and our conductor does have a few nuance that I find can be a distraction. It's also fair to say that I never perform my best under pressure.

    On the flip side though I was once told you only practice a part enough when you can't get it wrong, so it does show I still need more practice. It seems ironic that I played it correct last week in a concert.
    2nd tenor likes this.
  7. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    I’ve come to believe that the ability to do something is one entity and that the ability to deliver something under pressure is another entity, and then also that whilst there is a separation between the two a strength in one can compensate for a weakness in the other. If I recall correctly the OP is a Piano Teacher. I would guess that of similarly capable and practiced students that the ones confident in the examination room typically get better marks (because they have the confidence to deliver what they are capable of).

    As for the Conductor’s nuance and comments, well if they are not helpful then mentally set them to one side and shred them later.

    I’ve practiced some things endlessly but really it is, IMHO, a waste. Strangely those things that I can’t yet do become easier when I return to them weeks and months later. I haven’t practice them but the other things I worked on instead, a broad variety of things, enabled me to both make progress and better use of time.
  8. MissBraz

    MissBraz Active Member

    Least you have the attitude of.. 'It wont beat me'.
    You could have come out of that rehearsal and said 'I cant play it so I'm not practising anymore'

    This recently happened with me on a test piece we were playing, fact is I couldn't play it, Id never seen such a part but I didn't want it to beat me. I practised so much more than I had been doing recently and it became that I could have played it in my sleep - now I have done that once IMHO I want to do that every time, I want to get on stage and feel the confidence that I felt that day I played it. I came off of stage knowing regardless of the result I had played the beyond what I thought I could in years!

    I'll stop rambling - your attitude is good! Keep going! It will only beat you if you let it!

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  9. Queeg2000

    Queeg2000 Member

    I think it was Steve Stewart, the sop player from Cory who once told me you don't practice until you get the part right, you practice until you can't get it wrong. Something that in a situation like this makes a lot of sense.

    It's all well and good getting it right in private, but if I can't play it in the pressure of a rehearsal, there's not much hope of getting it right under the pressure of a contest either.
  10. Queeg2000

    Queeg2000 Member

    No, I'm not a piano teacher. I think you misunderstood a post in a previous thread there, when I mentioned I know a few brass players who have tried to learn piano or organ but failed. I certainly couldn't teach them, wish I could but I struggle enough playing one note at a time on cornet, I'd have no chance of hitting half a dozen keys at a time.
  11. MissBraz

    MissBraz Active Member

    It's all well and good getting it right in private, but if I can't play it in the pressure of a rehearsal, there's not much hope of getting it right under the pressure of a contest either.[/QUOTE]

    On this I agree. But that doesn't mean it cant be done. If anything self belief is probably preventing you from playing it in rehearsal especially if you know you can play it in private.

    I have got in the routine of practising for 5-10 mins in front of a couple of friends. Play it when I first get the part and then after a couple of weeks. They tell me the improvement and I know how much further I have to go.
    They are not brass players - but can tell from facial expressions when I play something wrong.

    Also the more you beat yourself up when you cant play something it becomes a mental issue rather than a playing issue - you see the bars coming up and you are already thinking in your head about how you messed up last time.
    Park that and be positive!
    2nd tenor likes this.
  12. Queeg2000

    Queeg2000 Member

    I get where you're coming from with this. I've only just got back into this after a 30 break. We're playing much harder stuff now than I was playing back then too, but I actually feel like I am playing better than ever already.

    When I was playing in my teens, my old band master was very good at coaxing the correct notes out of us even when we players "knew" we couldn't play them. As a result, once you had learnt the difficult parts, you knew them so well they became the parts you saw coming up and looked forward to because you knew you could play them as well as the rest of the part, if not better. I'm pretty determined to get into that position with this section again so next time I get asked to play it I want to be the best in my section (the others weren't brilliant either)
  13. GER

    GER Member

    It sounds like your confidence is the issue, not your playing. I had a 15yr break and am now just over a year in to comeback, and also had a confidence issue (posted on here, and got a lot of positive help). What works for me is, in private or otherwise when I play a part right is to visualise the band clapping cheering and generally being 'over the moon' at me getting it right. I know it sounds a little far fetched, but it really does work, it turns the negativity in your thoughts into positivity.
    I felt a bit foolish for the first few times, but then realised nobody knows what's in your head, so it doesn't matter. It takes a bit of practice, but is worth the effort.
    What happens when I get it wrong? easy I just tell myself I've been out for 15 years, do I honestly think I'm going to get everything right all the time, course not!
    Hope this helps
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2018
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  14. ari01

    ari01 Active Member

    What absolute tosh..... Typical of UK culture, it's always someone else's fault.

    If the conductor is not giving a clear beat or missing your cue then that's their fault however it's the conductors job to put the spotlight on players to see if they can play their part under a little pressure.. We're in a performance hobby / sport so controlling nerves is just as vital as the air supply, correct valves and focus on quality sound.
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  15. Queeg2000

    Queeg2000 Member

    I'm not blaming the conductor, I'd even go as far as to defend a conductor against these comments. If the conductor is missing a players cue then ultimately the player shouldn't need a cue if they are counting their rests properly. A conductor that keeps cuing sections to come in after a rest is encouraging lazy playing and creating work for themselves. If a player is having trouble counting a rest by all means ask the conductor for a cue, but a cue can also be misunderstood by other players who could come in too early if they are waiting for a cue as well.

    The players only need to follow one part, the conductor has enough to do without having to teach the players to count.
    ari01 likes this.
  16. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    We’ll have to disagree on that then. However, I don’t support the idea that ‘it’s always somebody else’s fault’ and do expect to put effort in myself and likewise my fellow band members. To do otherwise would be to fail our selves, our fellow players and our Conductor.

    If you want a Conductor that puts you under pressure and develops your ability that way then that’s your choice, indeed such tactics might have merit in the right situation - we need to remember here just how broad banding is. To my mind the idea is to be able to play the part reliably first and then cope with pressure second; to my mind the Conductor fails if he or she doesn’t coax out of you what you are capable of first, dealing with pressure is secondary and academic if you can’t manage the piece in the first place.

    The OP said: “Well after 3 attempts last night it could only be described as awful. Had I not practiced it then that's to be expected, but I could play it at home in my sleep.” . I’ve seen Conductors work that way before and frankly have found it most unhelpful, a waste of time that can destroy confidence.
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2018
  17. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    To me the OP’s old Conductor is a good example of how a good Conductor works.

    I note that the OP’s section members didn’t fair so well either, more indication to me of a Conducting style failure. What I see work better is to have the whole section play together; the weaker members know who they are and resolve to get better and everyone is mutually supportive. If the weaker players are still getting it wrong then adding in a couple of more experienced players can help demonstrate what’s wanted.

    Of course what works at one level of banding is less appropriate at another but the Conductor’s role and objectives remain the same: to develope and get the best practical performance out of the Band.
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2018
  18. 4th Cornet

    4th Cornet Active Member

    I'm possibly repeating what others have said, but to me there is absolutely nothing unusual with the OP's experience.

    Practicing the part until you can play it is one thing. Playing the part in front of others is something else that also needs to be rehearsed. Similar to learning the part in the first place, it may take several attempts before you can play it well in a particular environment.

    Others have spoken of the physiological differences of playing in front of others (so I won't repeat this), there is also the different acoustic and physical surroundings to consider. Intensive rehearsal on a tricky passage at home will have meant getting used to a certain sound. This will almost certainly be different in the band room and will have an effect on how you play.
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2018
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  19. ari01

    ari01 Active Member

    (NB - my next comment is tongue in cheek.... )

    Now that's a conductor we all need at rehearsal... Was he Harry Potter?
  20. ari01

    ari01 Active Member

    The key here is to understand what went wrong in the rehearsal. Was it nerves, fatigue, adrenaline, conductor going faster (or slower) than you'd practiced or was it simply a bugger of a part to play?

    Until you know which one of these it was then you can't come up with a solution...

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