• Liv Appleton

Rehearsal Diary- Stop Faffing and Just Play!

It only feels like a couple of weeks since I was last gearing myself up for a contest. Oh. That’ll be because it has only been a couple of weeks. What can I say? I just can’t stay away from the contest scene, clearly. This time I’m prepping ‘Legacy’ for my first official contest with Freckleton Band at the new ‘Brass on the Wire’ contest this weekend.

Monday- Splitty Donkey

Monday was just one of those rehearsals that you just accept wasn’t your day. I was very splitty. So much so, that in one muted passage, I split the first note of my entry so violently it sounded like a donkey’s bray. Not exactly what Tom Davoren intended, I imagine. I basically approached Monday the same way I first attempted to run 5K. I didn’t pace myself and was trying to blast out top C’s like Maynard Ferguson (although they sounded more like R2D2 screeching in Star Wars) and ended up knackering myself out very quickly- amateur mistake. I will not repeat the word that accidentally slipped out after a rather colourful split in my solo during the final run through. However, beating myself up and sulking about a less than decent rehearsal or performance is no longer allowed. I’ve learned my lesson the hard way with that. I now do an impression of Mutley, grumbling under my breath, before looking constructively at how to be less pants (technical term) next time.

At the end of the rehearsal, it was time to set my position with the band in stone. It’s almost like a banding baptism. This rite of passage was the bestowing of a walking out uniform (I’d already claimed a concert jacket after the last Christmas concert). I found one that fit and was handed my Freckleton Band tie and it was official- no turning back now! A rather smart shell jacket was a lovely added bonus- I do like a shell jacket. So I headed into Tuesday with some new garb and and a better game plan for my next rehearsal- to not tank it and end up sounding like a splitty donkey!

Tuesday- Stowaway

Only I would be able to convince myself that my perfectly valid ‘anytime off peak’ train ticket was magically invalid because I happened to jump on an earlier train than the one I bought the ticket for. I’ve taken trains many times; I know how train tickets work, but regardless of logic, my brain is annoyingly capable of making me worry for literally no reason- it’s an odd concept, essentially being bullied by one of your own organs. A good fifteen minutes of my journey to Preston was spent feeling like a stowaway. As the train guard approached me to check my ticket, my heart was in my mouth. This is it. He’s going to tell me my ticket isn’t valid and I will have to face the embarrassment of explaining myself in front of all these people! Just for reference, there was about three people in total in my carriage. Maybe I’ll get fined! I can’t be fined- pay day isn’t until next week! I took a deep breath in, as the guard looked at my e-ticket on my phone. I prepared my explanation.

‘Cheers, love.’

Before I could say anything, the guard had checked the ticket and moved onto the next passenger. My ticket was fine, I’m just a numpty- the joys of living with anxiety. However, this panicky mindset continued into rehearsal. I suppose, when you’ve been looking at the same piece of music repeatedly, for what feels like a decade, it can be easy to start obsessing over little details and over-thinking. Was that dynamic difference emphasised enough? I’m sure I’ve not been putting that tenuto in. Blummin’ heck, have I actually been playing any of this right?! When it came to the final run-through of the rehearsal I decided I just wasn’t going to think (dangerous, I know), just breathe and trust myself to do exactly what I have been achieving in previous rehearsals. When I listened back to the recording, I had done all the things I was worrying I hadn’t. The lesson I took away from Tuesday: TAKE A CHILL PILL AND STOP FAFFING!

Thursday- A Collar and a Carvery

If I could make having a carvery before a rehearsal a ritual, I would, but unfortunately I have to get into a bridesmaid dress in August and I’d rather not look like Peppa Pig walking down the aisle. By Thursday I was the twenty-three year old equivalent of a hangry, tired, cranky toddler. Thankfully the other half knows that the anti-dote for a grumpy Liv is food and beer. If you happen to be grumpy before a band rehearsal and are in the Preston area, I would highly recommend The Pig and Whistle. You can have chips with your carvery- GAME CHANGER and it’s safe to say that I arrived at rehearsal in a significantly less grumpy mood- the power of carbs and gravy.

I decided to implement a new rehearsal technique (new to me anyway, I definitely didn’t invent this) which I’m going to call ‘method playing’. Basically I always try to imagine that I’m really playing the piece on the contest stage during the last rehearsals before the contest, but I decided to take this to another level by adding a very simple but important variable- a shirt collar. It may sound daft, but I’m so used to playing in t-shirts and hoodies that the feeling of a shirt collar has been off-putting before now on stage. So I went to rehearsal in jumper with a stitched in collar to help imagining being on stage feel a little more real- like method acting but for playing…method playing. It’s not just me, some musicians and singers do practise in their concert attire before a performance- there is method in my madness, literally! Will it make a difference on stage? I’ll let you know after I’ve played. If it keeps one less useless, invasive thought out of my head on stage, I will be implementing it again.

Friday

The nerves were beginning to creep in on Thursday night. Little flutters of anxiety occurred before we started a run through or as I was approaching a solo and although I did hold my nerve whilst playing, there was that little voice of panic in the back of my mind. I’ve done a few concerts now on the end chair and coped- hell, I sang in front of 500 people and appeared confident, but for some reason I started doubting myself and on the way home from rehearsal I had a little wobble. I waffled on for about ten minutes about what if I don’t cope with my nerves and how I haven’t sat on the end chair for so long and never at this level and what if this happens/what if that happens…blah….panic….blah….panic….blah.

It wasn’t until the other half pointed out (in his pragmatic and logical way) that I am being silly and the chances of my worries becoming a reality was not likely and even if it did it doesn’t matter, the world will not end. I do so hate it when he’s right. So I walked into Friday’s rehearsal (my last full rehearsal before the contest) with the sole aim of just enjoying the piece. No pressure. No ‘what ifs’. Just play. I walked out of the bandroom on a high. Satisfied with a good last run through. Positive thinking people- it works.

By the time this is published, it’ll be 4pm on Sunday and I will have played. I hope I walked on that stage with this mindset. I very much hope I enjoy it. I think my mantra for the day will be ‘stop faffing and just play!’

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