Pre-and post contest feelings

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by midwalesman, Jan 5, 2004.


Contesting:- Your feelings !

  1. Do you look forward to contesting ?

  2. Do you dread a contest day ?

  1. midwalesman

    midwalesman Member

    Huddersfield, West Yorkshire

    I'm currently writing a chapter of my thesis on the attitudes and behaviour of players on the contest day. Although I have my own observations from contesting and have a general idea of the butterflies etc it would be nice to get other players opinions (and of course how the conductors and composers feel on the subject too! :D Any information I will gather from this research will be very greatful and especially any feelings or routines that people go through on the day would be invaluable. I have loads of data on musicians in the orchestral sector and it would be interesting to compare the brass band contestor to the concert performers.

    The information I am looking for runs along the lines of questions such as :-

    a) Do you look forward to contesting etc ?
    b) Do the rehearsals before the contest prepare you for the pressurised atmosphere of the event ?
    c) Do you feel that expectation is an added pressure on your performance ?
    d) Before walking out on stage how do you feel ? And is there anyone in your band that is particularly quiet or vocal or have certain habits which you find interesting or annoy you ?

    Any other info or reflections on this subject will be very welcome.

    ++ Can I quote any of the info in my thesis ?
  2. sunny_jimbob

    sunny_jimbob Member

    I personally love contesting, both from the social aspect, and the satisfaction of competing. I enjoy finding out what level I and the band have reached with a piece we've been practicing for a while, and to grade ourselves against opposition of a similar level. I find this interesting on both a personal level and as a member of the band as a whole.

    I don't think rehearsals can prepare you for the pressure of the actual event, but in theory the better rehearsed you and the band are, the less pressure you'd feel. I know that that's not necessarily true because people feel pressure differently. I for one don't really get nervous about performing because of the above reasons. I suppose expectation could add pressure, but that would of course be dependant on what the expectations were. Hopes may be more of a pressure than expectation. One thing that may be an additional pressure to some players, my last contest was with Shirebrook in the second section. I'd been with the band about five months, having moved from solo trombone in a low fourth section band to bass trombone in a second section band. Perhaps the additional pressure of playing at a much higher level than I was previously used to could have increased my nervousness (it didn't).

    Prior to going out on stage, I fear I may be one of the annoying ones! I tend to be fairly chirpy, and have a laugh and joke with players and officials around me. This might be a bit distracting to any really nervous people, but I like to think that a chuckle might crack the tension a little! But generally I feel calm, and become focused once I'm sat down preparing to begin.

    Hope that's useful for you, and feel free to quote away!
  3. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member

    a) Yes, its a major reason for playing in a brass abnd as opposed to any other musical group

    b) Not really. Some conductors have attempted to re-create some of the conditions by starting a rehearsal with a run-through or moving players around so that you hear different parts from normal.

    c) Yes, so long as the adjudicators remarks don't single me/my section out too much (or even sometimes a bit of praise is received) thats ok.

    d) A mixture of excitement and nervousness. The adrenalin adds that 1% that can make all the difference on the day.
  4. sparkling_quavers

    sparkling_quavers Active Member

    The social part of contesting is definately one of the main things the majority of bandspeople look forward to. This is to do with the way the banding community is made up through a net of connections making contests a good contact point to meet up with friends.

    On the musical side I look forward to having a listen to some the other bands in the area and seeing how they are doing. Also how they interpret things differently and the chance to hear some great soloists.

    But the thing I look forward to the most about contesting is the preparation that is involved and what that does in terms of improving the band- as individual players and as an ensemble. For most bands this is normally the most time they spend working on a piece of music... bringing it up to the best standard possible for the players. There is a great sense of achievement in preparing a contest piece even with a bad result on the day.

    No, I don't think any amount of rehearsing can prepare you for the pressure on stage. Lots of practice can relieve some of the pressue in the sense that if you are really comfortable with your part you aren't worrying about certain more difficult passages. Dealing with with nerves is a different issue- experience of doing alot of contests can help that.
    Saying that some people are always going to be more nervous than others.
    Yes sometimes, but not neccessarily from others. In banding at most levels the majority of pressure is personal pressure from yourself not wanting the let the team down rather than pressure directly from the conductor/other bandspeople.
    The amount of time waiting around with signing on etc is the cause of most peoples nerves... too much time to stew...
    I normally feel a bit nervous but only just before we walk on stage.
    I have seen alot of people try to calm their nerves down by giving pep talks to their section.

    if you want to :? :lol:
  5. Accidental

    Accidental Supporting Member

    West Sussex
    I've answered yes to the poll, but I'm not sure "look forward" is the right way to put it - for me contesting is the whole process, from picking the piece through learning the part and rehearsals, up to the day. The actual contest performance itself is quite often an anticlimax, but I enjoy the rest of the day and definitely look forward to that!
    Not at all! I've been in bands that try all sorts of different tricks, from blowing a whistle before a run through, to inviting an "audience", but no matter how long I do it, the only thing that feels like a contest day is the contest day.
    Not any more - but I think thats come with age/experience, and I usually put myself under more pressure than any one else could anyway! I've been lucky in the last few years to play for MDs who've trusted me to do my best and for that to be ok - and that really really helps.
    When I was about 16 my band at the time did a set-piece with a solo for me that was very exposed, and tough pitching. I really struggled with it, but didn't get any help or support from the MD or my (older & wiser) colleagues in the band - when I played it well nobody said anything, and when I mucked up they just rolled their eyes and whinged that I couldn't get it right. Sure enough, I went to the contest absolutely cacking myself, and messed it up on stage. Still, live and learn!
    My current band are a very calm lot on the day, and there's either no extremes or I'm too focused to notice them! I'm usually fine - fed up with hanging about and if anything itching to get it done. If I have a solo or tricky/exposed part I tend to get nervy or go to pieces, after I've played it!

    Sure - I hope you get some useful stuff out of this.
  6. floral_dance

    floral_dance Member

    Yes I look forward to contesting and the social side involved, great meeting up with people that you perhaps only see at contests.

    No I don't think the preparations and rehearsals prepare you for the contest stage, not even concerts prepare you for that, it is a different feeling altogether.

    I do get nervous but I think it is all the waiting around that gets to you. Once I start playing I tend to be fine.

    I would say our band are pretty quiet before going on, no one has any habits. However I do wear the same perfume to all the rehearsals before the contest and at the contest!!!!!!!!
  7. backrowbloke

    backrowbloke Member

    The social side yes, but the actual contesting no (although most may find that strange) I would rather do a good concert than a contest from a playing point of view.

    Personally, I haven't found my recent concerts to be pressurised. I find the preparation to be quite tedious (does that make me sound like a grump?) In general, nothing can make you fully prepared for a contest I suppose

    No, not at all

    It is pretty much a mixture - most are prett quiet I guess. The only annoying thing I find is the 'if we have a good rehearsal, we'll have a poor performance' thoughts that seem to exist
  8. Pythagoras

    Pythagoras Active Member

    I get too worried about making sure that we report in on time etc to worry about my playing at contests. Think I was about due a nervous breakdown at Wychavon last year.
  9. ju33les

    ju33les Member

    Not wishing to lower the tone...(as if)
    Does anyone else suffer from PCP?
    (pre contest poo?)
  10. Big Fella

    Big Fella Member

    I enjoy contest day, BUT what does drive me potty, is all the hanging around before hand, in various rooms or halls, and very rarely being given the chance to have a warm up..

    Is it just me, or does anybody else think that most contests these days should be pre-drawn, and your band be given a time a place to arrive ??.
  11. satchmo shaz

    satchmo shaz Active Member

    Long Eaton Nottingham
    I enjoy contesting and like a bit of adrenilin as long as I know that the band are well prepared! there is always a bit of added pressure on the stage so I try and emulate that before in an open rehearsal or something similar. I also try and give my band confidence and a pre contest chat! which normally puts them at ease :wink:
  12. MattB

    MattB Member

    Radcliffe, Gtr Manchester
    Personally I love contesting.

    As a player I always tried to make sure I was well prepared and well practiced before hitting the stage, but obviously that depended on how hard the piece was!

    As an MD I believe, as has been said above, that preparations for contesting improve the band dynamic by miles. Last night was our first rehearsal back after Christmas, and despite the expected dreadful hymn tune to kick things off, the band played really well.

    The one thing I hold up with a contest thought is this- if you like the piece, do you play it better than if you don't?

    As a player I knew that if I didn't like the piece, even though I would prepare in the same way, I never felt quite as comfortable playing it on stage when compared to a piece I liked.

    As an MD when picking an own- choicer I try and put myself in my player's shoes and think 'Would I like this piece as a player?'. If not then is it going to get the best from the band?

    I'm sure us lower section players remember the tedium of Narnia Suite...........
  13. Steve

    Steve Active Member

    Love it, love it, love it!!!! Never in my life have i dreaded a contest day but I think the key to that is preparation. I dont think the MD should want to create an atmosphere of pressure in rehearsal, if the band is in good spirits and the piece is going well then they tend to play better than ones under pressure.

    See the link below, it may have some useful bits in.
  14. cornetchap

    cornetchap Member

    Watford, Hertfordshire
    Curiously, given my inate dislike of contests, I've actually voted that I look forward to contest day. I suppose it's one of those things that if I've got to do it, and I will because I'm part of a team, then I might as well enjoy it :!:

    Cheers, Greg
    Contest Secretary, Watford Band (how ironic is that :?: )
  15. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    Isle of Arran and lovin' it!
    Like Accidental I voted 'Look forward' but it's not necessarily how I'd describe it. I like certain aspects and dislike others. I look forward to meeting friends from other bands and sharing some banter/beer etc. However, in recent years, (even with the more successful results) I've either become more cantankerous as I get older or I've noticed at lower section level, a significant drop in standards of adjudicating. It's probably the former! Still. Onto your specific questions.... I feel I've already covered question (a) so...

    (b) On contests where I've visted the same venue anually for a number of years, yes, as I'm more familiar with the likely acoustics of the venue. If a band I play in/conduct is visiting a specific venue for the first time, then nothing can really totally prepare you for what the band's going to sound like on the day.

    (c) As a player, no, as a conductor perhaps. I do start to 'look over my shoulder' even at lower section level if I conduct a 'bad result'. As a player, single 'blips' perhaps don't matter too much if the rest of the performance is good (or bad, I suppose!)

    (d) Nervous but not as nervous as I used to be. Familiarity over the years has helped that, but if I were to play a top section level, I'm sure those nerves would return! Still, I believe a bit of nerves is a good thing for me.

    I won't mention names but there is one person in a band I used to play with whose over enthusiasm to do well grated somewhat but generally, I don't notice any significant behavioural change on contesting day.

    Feel free to use my answers if they're of any use! Good luck with your thesis.

    Kind regards
  16. manx_yessir

    manx_yessir Member

    Abu Dhabi
    Ooh memories af the Areas of 2002 in Blackpool when I had to go to the chemist to buy some tablets to 'stop the flow' :oops: :oops: :oops:

    I've been told by some members of the bands I've contested with, that I go very quiet and grumpy!! :? :oops:
    I actually do really like contesting. It feels good to transform a piece that sounded poor to average at the start, to a piece that (hopefully) sounds very good on contest day. Also, as Matt says, it does make a big difference if you enjoy the piece.

    You may use this info if you wish, not that it'll be any use!
  17. Vickitorious

    Vickitorious Active Member

    I love contesting!

    It's a good day out with your band and a great laugh, and you also get the chance to see people that you don't very often see or speak to! The scary bit about any contest is waiting for the results! :?
    Contests are the best part of brass banding! But the practise up it is a bit annoying! :lol:

    Vicki xx
  18. Dawnys_flug

    Dawnys_flug Member

    I love contesting!! The social side is really great.
    Although i hate the time just before you go on stage. But i'm not sure why coz i love practising the test pieces! (yeah i'm a lower sixth student with way too much time on her hands! :grnsm ) I think it's probably because i'm so scared of falling off the stage when i walk round to my seat! But i get a great buzz when i come off the stage which makes it all worth while!
    My band would probably say that i'm the worst when it comes to nerves and that it's traditional to give the 'calm Dawn down' talk before we go on stage.
    At Dundee when i saw the hall from backstage :shock: i nearly burst into tears and attempted to slide back into the warm- up room, but luckly :roll: the trombone section were cleverly positioned to push me onto the stage and guide me to my seat! And i'm so glad they did. i couldn't stop smiling when i came off the stage! Fantastic! Worth all the butterflies!
  19. shedophone

    shedophone Member

    I play much better when i get nervous. i get more nervous when playing a solo (one piece or a whole concert), but at major contests theres always that bit of tension beforehand. A bit of adrenalin upps your concentration levels a little and keeps you on your toes. the worst performances i've dont are those when i havnt been nervous- but usually they're the ones that dont matter much so its not the end of the world.
    I sometimes get a bit obsessive about a certain bit of a piece, or a certain instrument (playing the planets i got a bit of an obsession about the tambourine as our band has a crap one so i couldnt play it at all how it'd be like until the day- so i channeled all my nervousness into obsessing about how good the tambourine was going to be, annoying everyone around me immensely! Sorry everyone...)
  20. ju33les

    ju33les Member

    As well as the bowels shaking (mentioned earlier on)....does anyone else get wobbly knees on stage :dunno ...or is it just me and the copious amounts of Cabernet Sauvignon that I imbibe?
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