Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Pipe Band Forum 3/10/07

Mental Preparation (my thoughts on preparing for competition)

Last year was my first year competing. It was a lot harder (mentally) than I thought it would be. I hadn't even been voted into the band yet, so I had never even performed or marched in a parade. I felt very comfortable with the tunes, but the nerves were really getting to me. I knew that if I didn't come up with a way to deal with it I would blow it.To make matters even worse, I was going to be piping for my son's drum solo.I finally told my son that if I started to choke on his solo, to just keep going and I would try to come back in. I then convinced myself that this first competition was just a "warm up" competition and didn't really matter. I also knew I'd be piping against 12 other pipers and told myself that as long as I felt good about my performance the rest didn't matter.The best performance I had was for my son's solo and once that was over I felt a huge weight off my shoulders and did reasonably well for my own solos.I've used this type of mental preparation for all of my competitions and it seems to have worked for me. The only time I'm really nervous is when I play for my son and I guess that's because I don't want to ruin his hard work.So how do you get psyched up for competition or a performance?

I haven't done any solo competition, but for some reason at this point, it doesn't seem like it would be as stressful as playing at a lesson, because the judge doesn't know me, and doesn't know my weaknesses, the way my instructor does. I'll know more after I do it, I'm sure!

Ohh ... it will be stressful, but use the suggestions here and you'll be fine. It's not just the judge you'll be playing for. Remember that a lot of the competitions are part of scottish festivals and games, so they can really draw a crowd and a lot of the spectators know good piping when they hear it. You're also playing in front of fellow competitors and other pipers from your band and the other bands who will be listening to every dropped doubling and garbled grip. It's stressful, but it really forces you to prepare and to focus. All in all it's a great experience, but it's very different from playing a private session for your instructor.

It is truely interesting how different this performance anxiety can effect individuals.

In a band setting I feel relaxed. The focus is not on me, so I can focus on my playing. When I first started to compete in solo's I would get so nervious that I would loose feeling in my hands.

I am just the opposite. Don't get me wrong, I still get nervous about solo competition, but I'm really not as worried about screwing up my individual performance as much as I worry about screwing up the band's performance. I don't want to be the piper responsible for a poor showing. When I play with the band I really have to stay focused.

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