Friday, September 13, 2013

A FEW STICKING POINTS: Fear factor

I left off congratulating you on graduating from the middle stages of memorization, but, before going on to the very final stage, I need to address a few items that have gotten swept under the rug. The first one is fear.

Without a doubt, you will experience memory-related fear at some point in your performing life. As a performer, you've already experienced fear and nervousness before going on stage, and you already know not to let that fear take over. You certainly don't want fear to be come so much of an issue that you are unable to perform at all.

Memory-related fear is, for me, a whole different level of performance anxiety. What if I have a lapse--will I come to a complete stop? What if I get caught in a loop and I can't find my way to the end? What if I go completely blank? At this point, I can't even imagine being nervous for a performance from score. (Here's another reason why working towards memory is such a good thing. It raises the bar so that everything but playing from memory seems so much easier. And once you get rid of the memory-related fear, everything is that much easier!)

This admission is not to make anyone too scared to try playing from memory. Think back to the early parts of this blog. Aside from teaching how to memorize, I've been teaching how to create a strong foundation. Think of your landmarks and mnemonics, and think about how you've developed your three memory types so that they work together. You must have confidence in the process, and you must have confidence in your ability to call upon your foundation. 

For this reason, I advocate practice performances. I've already covered them with regard to individual pieces, and I'll return to them when I discuss recital preparation. Your practice performances are a part of the confidence-building process. Even if you are an advanced memorizing performer, you still need to rely on practice performances to work out potential issues that can not be felt alone in the practice room. One of those issues is fear.

So, dim the lights and get ready for some scary stories as I share some of my own fear anecdotes in the next post.