Come this Friday evening, I will be performing in the UBC Symphonic Wind Ensemble’s first concert of the year. About a year ago, I was doing the same thing. Look back at myself from that time, I’m amazed at how much improvement I’ve made in my ensemble playing skills.
Last year, I was so nervous I could barely even focus, let alone play musically. Whenever I made a mistake, I would beat myself up about it horribly, even walking home crying sometimes. That wasn’t productive for me or the ensemble. I had trouble making entrances in time, I didn’t count rests well, I was terrible at looking up at the conductor while playing, and sometimes I didn’t even have my parts properly prepared.
Since then, I’ve learned that confidence is the best thing you can do for your playing. Letting nerves get in the way just screws you over before you’ve even started playing. I also figured out that it’s OKAY to make mistakes, that’s what rehearsals are for! Everyone makes them, and no one is going to hate your guts because of it, so no reason to be nervous. I learned to deal with mistakes productively; ie. identifying the problem and fixing it without getting upset, rather than taking it way too personally and making myself unable to solve the problem. I’ve learned to always have my parts learned fully for rehearsal (seems like a no brainer, but it’s just a matter of prioritizing I somehow didn’t grasp), I count better (usually..), and I’ve gotten way better at looking up at the conductor.
It’s truly amazing what a difference a year can make! Just wait til I’m in fourth year, I’ll be unstoppable!