Listen

"It's the sound that sets you free"- Man on Fire 
Ah the sound. Why is it that when we are on the audition stage it frightens us? For me, getting used to the initial sound breaking the silence was extremely hard. It's just me, my drum and the screen. I have to break the silence and play the excerpts. For some reason, my intrusion of that silence was scary. If you are like me, maybe you can relate. So how do we get over this fear of sound? Not only that, but what sounds are we even making at that moment? Are we conscious of it or is our fear and apprehensiveness deciding that initial sound for us? Here's how I tried to counter this.

I think there are three main facets of being comfortable with your sound: having control of it, accepting all aspects of it reacting to it both in positive and objective manners. First, the control. You must have maximum control of what you want to accomplish musically. If you can express what you want, then your technique is fine. However, if your soft playing is thinner than your loud playing, or vice versa, you have work to do. Usually, especially with soft playing, musicians tend to go too far south as far as playing way too soft to manage or maintain. This can be caused by not having enough weight to support the sound, either with air or actual weight support, making it sound thin and timid. Making sure that your sound has that bottom, that fullness, at all levels, and the opposite, having a manageable thin sound at all levels, and anything in between, I believe is crucial to being able to adapt to any hall and any situation. If the hall is really wet, you have to play shorter to be clearer, in most cases. You can do this by thinning the sound out, but you can also just play the full sound short, or have a complimentary mix of the two. The more options you have, the more adaptable you become, as long as you allow yourself to make those adjustments naturally, not forcefully. If you try to play soft or loud, you usually use more energy than you need, making the sound seem unnatural or forced.

Next, full acceptance of what ever comes out. No sound is bad. All sounds are "good." The quicker you accept this, the easier it will be to be comfortable with the sounds you make. There are only appropriate and inappropriate sounds for the moment. Nothing is bad and all are good. Kenny Werner, author of Effortless Mastery, talks about making the "ugliest sound" sound like the most beautiful thing in the world. When you hear that "ugly" sound, it shouldn't make you cringe. Don't shy away from that sound because it's yours, you made it. Yes, it might not be appropriate for that moment, but it is yours. Enjoy that. The less you judge your sounds in a subjective fashion, the easier adjustments can be made to get to a desired result. If your practice is always in fear of a sound, you'll never fix the root of the "problem" and the "ugly" sound will continue to appear. Accept it, find why it is there and what causes it and embrace that knowledge. Then you'll be able to navigate around it.

Finally, guiding the reactions to your sound. As previously stated, you cannot label your sounds as bad. Really, no sound is good or bad, they are just sounds. So reacting in a negative way only further hinders their being. I would rather react positively to all sounds rather than making the distinction between bad ones and good ones. Remember, there's only appropriate and inappropriate for the moment. This objective view will allow you to make more efficient changes with less stress on the outcome or the process towards that outcome. Also, reacting to the initial sound you make, and also anticipating it at the same time, dissolves the mystery of what is going to happen. If you know what sound you want, know that you can achieve that sound with little to no effort, extra or otherwise, and just allow yourself to do what you hear, you will always make the sound you desire. From there, just react to what that initial sound gives you. Yes, you may have calculated the amounts of air or stick heights for the excerpts, but that can never be set in stone. What if the hall renders that system unusable? You have to be ready and willing to do whatever needs to be done without a second thought, hence the reason for reacting to what comes, having the control and technique to change without thinking and not perceiving any sounds as bad, but in a positive, objective light.

The pictures used were from the New York Film Academy student resource article about stage fright. While I have yet to tackle this topic, I do believe that this article makes very good suggestions and has great examples that you might find helpful. This of course is another aspect that effects our ability to perform, let alone create the sounds that we want. But, again, I think that thinking about the creation of those sounds in this way will lessen the stress and make it easier to perform in the long run.