Saturday, 20 August 2011

Performance Anxiety

Not the obvious - I am talking about that sort of paralysing anxiety of the muscles that occurs when you sit down at a piano that is not your own and confront the poker-faced examiners who will assess your performance and pass or fail your efforts.  I remember only too well the uncontrollable shaking of my hands through ten years of piano grade exams and the ensuing shame that I could never perform well under these conditions. I always hated being asked to play by relatives and mostly point-blank refused. What is the point, people say, if you can't play for anyone?  I sometimes enjoyed those few occasions when I almost played something without mistakes (in strict privacy) but I was always aware of how excruciating it is for members of one's family to have to suffer the long hours of practice. I was always assured that the nervousness would abate over the years. It never did.  However, while visiting this musical family of my brother's, I have realised that my sister-in-law, who plays the violin, suffers pretty much to the same degree. She confessed that she used to enjoy when she was young, being accompanied by her father who played the piano and concertina so I found some simple-looking music in her collection for violin and piano so I suggested we have a go together.  I was met with smiles but many delaying tactics over the week, so I have been practising on my own - whistling the violin line. The family goes on their holiday today and will take me to the airport the day they get back, so I suppose I've lost my chance of the less nerve-wracking chance of making music with someone else, whose own mistakes might disguise mine. Never mind: I'm practising my drums (practise kit yet to be designed from kitchen utensils) this week in an empty house, with my deaf dad next door and an acre of garden around me. The whistling works well too: I'll be making music with myself.


  1. "I'll be making music with myself."

    me too.

    Love your blog! cheers :)

  2. Any kind of music one makes is good for the soul.

    I understand performance anxiety well. My husband plays several instruments very well but hates performing for others and I sing reasonably well but freeze up with an audience. So, in the privacy of our home and with each other, we sing and play very happily.

    May your drumming be a similar joy!