Hornmasters on Performance Anxiety, Part III: Wekre and Reynolds


Frøydis Ree Wekre in Thoughts on Playing the Horn Well notes that

The best remedy against stagefright and nervousness is to always be in the best possible shape and well prepared for what you have to perform. Thus, to practise regularly and frequently is your best “secret”, besides positive thinking, a constructive attitude and a few other details…

But her central approach to nerves is to embrace the concept of “Anyway!”

Does your mouth tend to become dry during a performance? Make the mouth really dry when practising: Eat some crackers without drinking anything, for example, and then play ANYWAY!

How about a high pulse rate? Run around the house a few times, do some quick jumps and then play ANYWAY!

Do you feel uncomfortable when the concert place gets very warm? Put on another layers of clothes or two and practise playing ANYWAY!

What about the legs shaking for a stand up solo? Stand on one foot then, and keep playing ANYWAY!

The list could go on and on. Only your creativity will decide.

There will be good and bad days but “The state of the mind will decide a lot more than the state of the body.” It may cost more to make the result but in the end Wekre encourages the reader to “Play well ANYWAY!”

Verne Reynolds weighs in on performance anxiety in The Horn Handbook in the context of large ensemble rehearsals.

Our performance at the first rehearsal for a concert reflects the thoroughness of preparation. The first rehearsal also sets the psychological framework for the remaining rehearsals and concerts. If we do not have a good first rehearsal of the Beethoven Seventh Symphony for example, we are left with a wound that probably will not heal completely before the concert. This wound becomes a scar that can affect future performances. For the Beethoven Seventh Symphony, horn players, before the first rehearsal, must have worked out the dotted rhythm, soft high attacks, loud high attacks, A-horn transposition and intonation, breathing places in the loud passages, and the endurance necessary to do all of this. To arrive at a rehearsal with doubts about any of these components is the first step toward a long battle with performance nerves. Conversely, confidence is the manifestation of the expectation of playing well. A bad first rehearsal cannot lead to a justifiable expectation of playing well at the second rehearsal. Better to be thoroughly prepared at the first rehearsal. This thoroughness is the link to the practice room.

To close this series we turn to the topic of fearlessness and more.

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