How do you think you did with your performance assessment? Did you perform as well as you thought you would, or not?
The performance assessment was on line 120 from our book: the well known Swan Lake theme. Overall I think I did quite well with the performance assessment of Swan Lake but sadly I don’t think I performed as well as I had hoped. I do believe I went in and did better than previous performances however. I felt more confident in my practicing and my ability this time performing but I still believe overall there is a lot that I could continue to work in terms of musical elements and ability.
If you performed worse than you expected, explain why. If you performed better than you expected, explain why.
I think I performed worse than expected despite being more comfortable with my performance this time around. The main reason behind this was my nerves I believe. In the morning before I performed I was feeling quite good in terms of my sound and playing ability but as soon as I started playing by myself in the test I think I froze up a bit. I’ve had this problem before so I expected it but it is still irritating and hindering to my performance. When playing flute, I am very used to playing in an ensemble such as in class or within band in school. It is not as common for me to be playing by myself within school or directly in front of teachers or examiners by myself. The nerves issue itself is quite frustrating to me, especially since I know I can play better. There are some ways I believe I can improve in this aspect of performance and that includes being more confident with my overall flute playing ability. I have faced the same stage fright issue in other topics and classes such as dance or drama and I have found the best way to improve on my confidence is to actually have confidence in myself. I would need to take time to become more comfortable with my playing and musical ability as a whole to get better at performing. Another way I could improve upon the issue to not focus on the assessment at task as much and more to lose myself in the music. I have actually found this tactic to be helpful in flute exams as when you have studied one piece of music for many months you could play it blindfolded and thus I found if you focused on enjoying your own music in the exam instead of focusing on the actual examiner and your nerves, you would feel more comfortable playing and thus be able to ‘perform’ more.
Explain your rehearsal process.
My rehearsal process always begins with a warm-up every single time. A typical warm-up for my flute playing (if I had enough time) would include slowly going up in long tones from my lowest note to my highest possible notes on the flute and then playing slurred fifths and scales, going up in key signatures. Once I have enough warm air in my flute and I am in tune I will often play scales and such in the key signature of the piece I am focusing on so I can get into the mind-set of those notes in the key signature. Then usually I will start playing the piece. The first few times I ever rehearse a piece, I play it through all the way to the best extent of my ability so I can see the areas I need to work on. After that I work through each part of the piece bit by bit until I can piece all the parts together. The first aspect I focus on at these points are note accuracy, rhythm accuracy, and breathing and once I have reached success in those areas I begin to focus more on my overall tone, dynamics, and performance aspects such as putting emotion or movement into the piece. In subsequent rehearsals if I don’t have enough time to go through all of this I will simply practice the piece a few times, improving upon aspects each time.
Which of the following was the most successful: note accuracy, rhythm accuracy, articulation, dynamics, tone quality, breathing/phrasing? Explain why.
I believe my most successful aspect in my performance that is listed above was rhythm accuracy. I am usually very good at keeping notes at an even pace and following along to a consistent beat and I believe in this performance, despite some mistakes, I managed to continue and stay on track and on correct beats and rhythms for a majority of the piece. When performing I usually try to keep a consistent tempo in my head and sometimes I find it helps to tap my foot or tense a calf muscle to this beat to act as a body tempo. If I find this difficult to do standing up, I usually find that the tempo inside my head is quite consistent and accurate.
Which of the following was the least successful: note accuracy, rhythm accuracy, articulation, dynamics, tone quality, breathing/phrasing? Explain why.
I believe that I could work more on my breathing/phrasing from my performance earlier. During the performance there were moments during the long slurs when I felt out of breath and I took some breaths in bad places in the middle of a phrase simply because I needed to breath. I think some of my weakness in this area during my performance can be attributed to my nerves as stated earlier as when I get nervous I find it harder to control my breathing and support. Perhaps I can find ways to work on my breathing in connection to confidence whilst performing. I think my phrasing could be improved in general as well due to my phrasing for the second half of the piece being less clear.
How can you specifically (not musicians in general) improve your level of skill in a realistic manner?
As said earlier, I believe the biggest area of improvement for my performing is the control of my nerves during performances. I think it is quite difficult to find realistic ways to improve this but I believe it is something that can be gradually improved on. The most realistic way of improving on it that I could think of would be to actually find more opportunities to perform. An explanation behind this was that I used to be terrified of performing in drama despite loving theatre and acting. I found however, that after the years that as I performed in more shows and classes, that this year during drama class and in the musicals and plays I have been in, I have been able to go on stage with little to no nerves now. I attribute this to finding more chances to perform and thus becoming more comfortable with myself as an actor which I believe is the same thing that I need to do for playing the flute.
Discuss how another musician has inspired you to be more successful (this could be someone in school out in the community, or can be someone who doesn’t even play the same instrument as you).
I believe someone that has inspired me to be more successful has been my flute teacher outside of school. I’ve been taking lessons with her for three years now so she has seen my growth as a flautist and has always been there as not only a teacher but a constant source of feedback and inspiration. Now that she knows me quite well she has always found ways to help and encourage me with my performance in flute and with many other things outside of music in general. She has given me some of the best flute tips and lessons I’ve ever learnt but even more than that she has always been supportive, even when I faced failure and disappointments with flute performance so she has always been someone who has inspired me to be more successful.