Just Play

The Joy of Performing

How do you get over the fear of playing your flute in front of others? Just do it. Play in front of others as often as you can. Yes, there are a bunch of performance preparation tips but this blog post is mostly about simply getting yourself in front of others.

As a teacher, I try to provide performing opportunities for my students on a regular basis. If you don’t take private lessons from someone who provides these types of opportunities, create your own. Volunteer to play in church, or for a social event, or at an assisted living center, or let your community choir director know you are available to play a flute obbligato if they need one.

When my children were younger (and at home more often), sometimes I’d bring them in the living room where I taught flute lessons and made them sit on the couch and be an audience for my students. Believe me, my kids were attending recitals and concerts as soon as I’d allow. They learned to be exceptional audience members from a very young age. If nothing else, set up your favorite teddy bear or pictures of others on your couch and have them be your fake audience.

When you are preparing for a bigger audition or performance, visualize the performance in your mind while you are practicing at home in your living room or bedroom, or wherever you practice. Imagine the setting you might be in. Then “practice performing” in your mind.

Then when you get to your performance, try visualizing your “comfort zone” of being in your living room or your bedroom or wherever you practice. Let that “comfort zone” help calm your nerves. Above all, don’t freak yourself out before you even get there. (Not that any of you would ever do that.) Yes, sometimes judges or a room full of audience members can be intimidating, but for the most part, I truly believe that they are there to support you and if a judge, help you improve and offer constructive criticism.

If you really want the practice before a critical performance or audition, play in front of others in 10 different settings. That’s right, T-E-N, 10 different settings. Ask your neighbors, friends, aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends of friends, anyone. Tell them you need to practice performing and ask if you can come play your pieces for them at THEIR house. This way you are in a different setting with different lighting and different acoustics and you can practice performing. I can’t imagine that people would turn you down. But if they do, who cares. Ask someone else. Performing gets easier with practice and with time as you gain more experience.

So play, and play, and play in front of others! Then play your flute some more!!

Performing is Fun

What is fun about performing?

Sometimes students are scared to play in front of others. I completely understand that. Sometimes I get nervous too. When I was younger my dad always wanted me to play my flute or the piano for anyone that came through our front door, or so it seemed. Did I love that? Absolutely not! But now, years later, I’m grateful that he was so proud of me and wanted to provide opportunities for me to share my talents with others as often as I could.

I went to college and earned degrees in Flute Performance and Pedagogy. Some of the college requirement options were to either do a research paper or do a solo performance. Which one did I choose? You guessed it. Performance!! I had a lot of fun preparing and playing multiple solo recitals during my years in college and graduate school, not to mention all the large and small ensemble performances I’ve been involved in for the past 40 years.

Utah Valley Symphony Sunday in the Park

Last week I played with the Utah Valley Symphony for our second outdoor summer concert in the park. The symphony is on the left just past the large screen and the van. It’s not the best photo, but at least it gives you an idea of the setting. Even though a lot of people filled the park to come listen to us and even though it was being filmed by the local cable company to be rebroadcast later, I wasn’t concerned about the people or the cameras.

I was just so happy to be playing again and even more grateful that the wind wasn’t blowing like our last outdoor concert. I sure missed not preforming last year, thank to COVID.

Our concert was patriotic and movie music such as Battle Hymn of the Republic, Moon River, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Over the Rainbow, Harry Potter and more. Nothing heavy and serious, just a lot of fun and beautiful music. There wasn’t anything scary about playing this summer concert.

So what’s fun about performing?

Continue reading “Performing is Fun”