Do you play louder when performing live?

I recently join a local community and was asked to play a piece in front of 30 over people. It was a piece that I memorised by heart and something I can easily play. But when I sat on the piano chair, anxiety stuck and my fingers were shaking. I couldn’t a get a nice piano dynamics for the first note. I missed quite a few notes subsequently and the dynamics were all wrong as my fingers were shaking too much to have minute control over it.  I managed to finish it.

 

Surprisingly, my left hand has less of an issue than my right. It manage to get to the right position and right notes. But it was my right hand, that couldn’t hit the right notes with the right dynamics. 

 

Later when I sat there watch the other performances, I noticed those performances that sounded good are also pretty loud, and some looked like they are pressing overly hard on the guitar. I remember my teacher telling me before that most performers regardless how experienced gets nervous and cold hands too.  

 

Just wondering from the experienced players here who performed live. If it helps to press the guitar harder and hit the notes louder when overcoming anxiety and shaking finger?. 

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  • I too have shared this experience.  What has helped me the most is regularly playing for a group of friends.  We get together for a “soirée” once a month with a potluck dinner, wine, and making music.  What is hardest is playing “cold” without a chance to warm up.  I find starting with a very easy well prepared piece helps settle nerves.  I think it’s always important to use minimal left hand pressure.  The right hand should focus on tone and phrasing.  To achieve more volume try pressing more deeply into the sound hole. I agree that being surprised by shaking fingers or trembling lips is disconcerting!  Time, experience, and being kind to yourself helps.

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      • David Krupka
      • Amateur guitarist/lutenist
      • David_Krupka
      • 2 wk ago
      • Reported - view

      Marilyn Blodget That sounds like a pleasant way to spend the evening, Marilyn. But I'm wondering ... does the wine come before or after the music making? 🤔

      Like 1
    • David Krupka Both!  It depends on whether we need courage or absolution.

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    • Immanuel
    • Immanuel
    • 13 days ago
    • Reported - view

    If performing live I often have to play louder because of the acoustics of the situation. I don't find that playing louder helps with nerves if anything a mistake can become more noticeable. I often play outside so am amplified and I find that encourages me to use the full dynamic range. When I have attended summer schools I find that university students will nearly always play louder than intermediate/beginner adult players but of course the guitar they play has a big impact.

    Like 1
    • don
    • don.2
    • 13 days ago
    • Reported - view

    Marilyn Blodget thanks! I should start doing that. I host dinner quite often, could be a good reason for test performing for an audience. They are eating my food afterall, need to work for it..😂

     

    Immanuel thanks! I just found it hard to control any dynamics at all with the shakey right hand. 

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    • Oscar
    • Oscar_t
    • 12 days ago
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    Hi Don, Thank you for sharing your experience with us. I also agree with Marilyn Blodget I would rather prefer to maintain a relaxed left-hand...but also right hand

    I do not think that playing louder would help overcome anxiety and shaking fingers, but a connection to a deeper level of consciousness while playing would. Assuming a solid foundation for efficient movements to achieve what you want to express in the instrument and a clear roadmap of what you want to express, I think the next step consists of trying out this mystic state of mind while sharing your music. Previous experiences with mockup performances in a deep state of concentration with control over your thoughts can give you confidence if you have tried to control what is in your mind while playing (that I believe has to be nothing, autopilot, trying to be a medium), closing the internal dialogue when it appears and opening to the emptiness of being just a bridge between the music in your hearth and the audience.

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      • don
      • don.2
      • 8 days ago
      • Reported - view

      Oscar Thanks! I think this like playing mentally without the instrument right?

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      • Oscar
      • Oscar_t
      • 7 days ago
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       don absolutely; trying that out without the instrument is an excellent idea, but also with an audience or recording yourself.  This concept I presented to you is a mixture of ideas from different sources: The part about silencing the internal voice while performing comes from the book "the inner game of music" by barry green,  while the part about the deeper but aware state of mind comes from the book "musical excellence" by aaron williamon and "La biblia del músico" by Antonio Rodriguez Delgado (only available in Spanish) both touching on the same topic but from different experiments using different approaches.  I think that Pepe Romero also talks about it in a tonebase video.

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