Friday, September 11, 2009

concert nerves? nah.

Wow, it's been forever since I posted here. Gave a concert in August in Maine of Mozart, Debussy, Ginastera, Haydn, Chopin, and Rachmaninoff. Barely a CMC original in there (I did have to throw in River Dawn right before the intermission). I'd been improvising for so many years that I'd really been out of the loop of classical preparation and performance. It was so refreshing and amazing and a really neat journey to have to pour my focus, concentration, and energies into memorizing the music and preparing for the concert. Towards the end I was putting in over 30 hours a week of practice time. It all paid off and the concert was a tremendous success-- at the very end as I finished the last chords of the Rachmaninoff Elegie, there was complete silence from the audience... no one wanted to the be the first to clap and disturb the experience we all shared together. My husband started the clapping, and I had one of the best feelings of accomplishment I'd had in my life.

It wasn't a smooth journey all the way, as I'm pregnant (officially due in late November) and much of the early work had to be done in my first trimester... can we say no energy, sleeping all the time, major hormonal mood swings and super lack of motivation? Luckily for me (and all those I love around me) my energy came back full swing for the second trimester and I was able to have focus and concentration and even-keeled moods again.

Well, the focus was there-- but I was a nervous wreck... so nervous about performing from memory after so many years of improvising my way through performances. What finally brought me through in the end was two-fold: 1) focused practice -- being able play all of the pieces with my eyes closed, by memory with hands apart, and on a silent keyboard w/visual but no sound-- in other words, completely preparing and not letting muscle memory have the opportunity to sneak in there and fail me and leave me lost - and 2) self-hypnosis/relaxation techniques/visualization/affirmations.

River Dawn has been licensed for a hypnobirthing CD in the UK (yes, I'm using it for my own pregnancy), and as part of the preparation for that CD as well as my own private preparations for childbirth, we had a private hypnobirthing class in our house, which happened to fall just a few weeks before my concert. Our teacher saw that I was a nervous wreck and modified some of the relaxation scripts to specifically address concert nerves... and after she left I was palpably more calm, serene, and confident. She gave us a fear-release script that my husband read to me every night leading up to the concert, and even read just moments before I walked on stage. I also printed out affirmations of my confidence and posted them all over the house for me to see throughout the day, and I put one of them inside the piano during the actual performance so I could touch back on them while playing. What an incredible experience... to feel the nerves lift, to have them not come back, and to have a great concert experience afterwards.

Well, I'd best be off. Several students coming this afternoon. It's the first full week of teaching and I'm so happy to be back in a more structured schedule. Now for baby prep and figuring out how to fit piano practice into the day on top of all that...


1 comment:

rhythm said...

Hey Catherine, just discovered your site. You don't post too often, so I hope you had a great piano holiday season. I have a new wonderful website I thought you might enjoy visiting. It's non-profit with no ads, just a labor of love for anyone who's passionate about the piano. I'd be hppy to contribute some content to your site in return for a link to my site. Go to:Piano Passion!