Do you have a hard time playing music memorized? Especially in front of a group of people, or even judges? This is not uncommon so don’t be alarmed. There are many stage frightened flutists. In this article there will be some tips and hints to help you perform music memorized beautifully.
There are many reasons as to why some people can’t play music memorized. To help overcome these, find the “weakness” of yours and try the appropriate suggestions.
Most common memorizing weaknesses:
1. Stage Fright: Being in front of a room or people makes you nervous. To help get over stage fright, gradually start sitting in front of the classroom or meeting. Speak up more. Get used to talking to more than one person at a time. Apply this to playing the flute. Start by performing in front of one person then up the number of people. The only way to get over “stage fright” is to just do it!
Once you get over the initial “shock” of performing in front of people, try looking at one spot/person near the back. That way you don’t look down at the floor or the front row creating a flat or unclear tone.
Does your brain have a tizzy fit about long pieces?
2. Memory Block: Does your brain have a tizzy fit about learning long pieces? Even the shorter ones? Start off with working a note at a time, and then a measure at a time. Gradually moving to memorizing a line at a time. Eventually you’ll have the piece memorized! Imagine that! Eventually you’ll have a whole filing cabinet of music ready for your use. 🙂
Another method you can try is to play it memorized with a recording. Your brain likes to rely on something. Rely on the accompaniment.
3. Hiding behind the music: Does having people stare at you scare you and make you want to hide behind something? The only thing you have with you on stage is a stand and the music. You will need to practice without the music in front of you even though you may not look at it. Having the music on a stand in front of you is like a shield for the audience, and a comfort blanket for you. We don’t want that. We want it to make you look as confident in your abilities as you can be. As the saying goes, “Fake it ‘til you make it!” Looking down at the music sometimes can also create a flat tone as well sometimes.
13 thoughts on “Stage Frightened Flutists with Memorized Music”
Great information! Looking at the far end of the room is a great idea. I guess that would work for public speaking also!
Hey Leonard, it definitely works for public speaking. In fact, I’d say that most/all of the skills learned to perform an instrument (especially flute because we face the audience) will lead to great leadership skills. Keep it up! ~Rebecca
We live in a wonderful time! Most of us have cable, or satellite TV, as well as the Internet. This means there are LOTS of recorded concerts we can watch. Whenever I’m watching a concert and there is a closeup shot of the performer I watch their eyes. I find most performers don’t really make eye contact as we normally think of the term in conversation. Instead, they slowly scan the audience, much the way you would scan a scenic landscape view. Treat the audience as a single entity, and let your eyes browse its detail!
Great observation here, William! I actually had a master class once where we were taught to keep a ‘blank’ look on our face as we performed. If you notice the younger and the more advanced the student, the more blank their look is – it keeps you relaxed knowing that they don’t have to ‘try too hard’ to sound so great. ~Rebecca
When memorizing a piece, break it down into sections. This way instead of trying to memorize one monolithic structure, you are memorizing several smaller parts. We all do this when memorizing a song: we memorize the chorus first because its the part that repeats! Next we’ll pick up on a verse, then two verses, etc. You can do this with instrumental works as well!
So right, William. A perfect ‘you can do it’ post. See you in a module lesson soon. 🙂 Rebecca
As a songwriter, I’ve found nothing aids memorization better than repetition. I’ve written some pieces that run six or seven minutes – one is over nine minutes long. The only way to memorize something like that is to perform it over and over.
Be conscious of phrasing. Whether you’re singing or playing an instrumental part, the music will have natural phrases and it is much more effective to memorize phrases rather than specific measures. This helps you “picture” the music in your head and aids in breathing.
Finally, I find the best way to perform lyrics is to always be thinking about the NEXT phrase while you’re performing the current one. This is similar to having your eyes moving ahead of the notes you’re playing when you’re reading sheet music.
Perfect statement here William. You are so right! Repetition is our friend, for sure! Rebecca
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Hey with these wonderful tips, I am actually starting to really look forward to my first performance in 3 days!!! Thanks a bunch 🙂
Oh good luck, Esther!!
Thank you for those valuable tips !
. Allow me to add something here on the first point, of course I have not been on stage as flutist before, but I have done several presentations in my career , so I would say one tip I think also can work in this context.. You mention ( try looking at one spot/person near the back. ) This can work, and also try looking at the forehead of the audience in general and avoid eye contacts until you build a self confidence on the stage.
So true, Abdu. You are right on by suggesting avoiding eye contact until confidence is built. True! It is a wonderful feeling after performing well. Totally worth it. 🙂 ~ Rebecca