ponedeljek, 21. marec 2016

Stages of excitement

As a person / musician who is dealing with a lot of self- pressure, I assumed it would be fun trying to explain why I put myself in such a state and also relate it to my different stages of excitement, motivation, etc. I find this topic quite interesting, especially because I assume every musician is different. In order to show the differences and similarities between us, I decided to ask some of my friends and classmates, how they rank their stages of excitement and motivation. 
At the beginning I mentioned self- pressure. Where does it come from? Well, the answer is quite simple. As long as I can remember, there was always a close relationship/ bond between performance and perfectionism on stage. In order to play brilliantly and creatively and to show a sense of musicality, you had to be extraordinarily prepared. Mentally and physically. Countless hours of preparation give us feeling or even expectations that we need to present ourselves as best as we can, without any flaws.  But at one point that becomes self pressure. Through years I realized that the only way to deal with it is reminding myself that I am a human, and I am allowed to make mistakes on stage. Luckily in my case, I started to notice differences in my playing, simply because of the change in my way of thinking. Not feeling the pressure anymore, I acted more spontaneously on stage, feeling relaxed, and most importantly I enjoyed every second of my performance. 
But how can we relate all this to stages of excitement and motivation? 
The connection  between those is quite strong. The more motivated and exited we feel, the more we are usually capable of doing and creating. But what happens when that stops you from rational thinking and our expression and interpretation becomes a over exaggerated one? In my opinion this is quite normal in the process of practice. Especially at the beginning, when you choose a piece you want to play. You feel so overwhelmed, that you just want to practice and repeatedly play your favourite phrases of the chosen piece. Sometimes we listen to the other artists playing their own interpretation of the very same piece, and imagining how we can play it at the same level as they do, or even better, differently, with the same expression, or completely change it in order to fulfill our perception of an ideal execution of the piece. But this stage is just temporary. At the second stage, when we need to focus on the technical and musical execution, our level of excitement  drops a bit, because we have to make so much more effort to actually make things sound good. Now, we can mention self- pressure. We start to push ourselves to the limits of our technical and also musical abilities we posses, in order to make an excellent, unique and exquisite performance. 
We fail to convince ourselves that something we played is good enough. Even if it is, we still manage to seek for every little "mistake" we can find. A lot of those flaws in our playing become more significant simply because of our inability to relax, and listen to what we play. Our tendency to perfection makes us completely oblivious to what is really important when we perform on stage. 
This stage is also much longer than the first one. It takes much more energy and makes us emotionally empty, sometimes confused.
The third stage is in my opinion mental preparation. If you overcome your fears of bad performance, which are sadly chronic fears for a lot of younger musicians, you automatically act much more  confident on stage. Knowing that you made everything you possibly could to be excellent, gives us a major feeling of satisfaction. A lot of times we need to remind ourselves of that. 
It is interesting and also a bit hilarious how many times we have to convince ourselves that it is worthy all that work. But, when you overcome your fears, mental walls that you built around yourself, you grow as a musician. At the end, when your performance becomes flawless because you stopped worrying and focused on spontaneous playing, that is the biggest satisfaction you can get. Pure happiness.   

xoxo, Ana

ponedeljek, 8. februar 2016

The image of a perfect musician

Well, since I am a musician who seriously studies piano at a music academy, I thought it would be a great idea to describe a typical day of a classical musician, who is still under her studies. I am not saying that this is a typical day of every living classical musician, but I believe that there is something real about that stereotypical image of a person who really dedicates and sacrifices almost everything in their life to become a better and more successful interpretor.
But, there is so much more. Our masochistic ways and methods to become better musicians go beyond your imagination. Our lifestyle can be easily compared to  lives of ballerinas or dancers. We all are trying our own abilities to the maximum, and sometimes even enviously watch others reaching some goals before us... Well, that definitely motivates and inspires us to work even harder. Eventually we start to enjoy this kind of lifestyle. We get very nervous and anxious when we cannot practice, because this is basically the only thing we do. Besides sleeping, walking, drinking excessive amounts of coffee (to stay awake, so you could practice even more). Sometimes we even forget to eat. Our excitement goes to such high levels, that you can't even notice hunger. The only thing you are thinking of at that moment is music. Phrases. How to tell a story to the audience. You seek another hidden message in the score. And you love every second of that creative phase.
Well, not every day looks like this of course. Sometimes it is all just too much to handle. At the end of the day, we are just humans. We can have bad days if we want to. But knowing that you are maybe possibly missing an opportunity when you don't practice enough, can be a constant reminder of our decision to be classical musicians. We have chosen this kind of life, so we have to stand by it. The only thing we can be guilty as a musicians is not caring about our interpretation. It is our main job, to express emotions through our instrument. Not caring about that is the biggest crime. Sometimes not playing is better than interpretation with very little emotions.
Because of an unknown reason, we are in love with music. Trying to find an explanation is probably very complicated, on the other hand very simple... We can't define the line between normal lust and too much excitement for music. But I can definitely tell you: once you feel that, you are hooked :D 

Xoxo, Ana