When I play piano in front of people, it always makes me nervous, and I almost always mess up.
Back when I was younger, I was able to play pieces without making a single mistake, but when I went into middle school, I could never play a perfect piece in front of people that were not in my family. I was wondering, wondering if this was a mental mindset problem or something to do with practicing. I used to play by memorizing the right-hand and left-hand just followed along-not really knowing what it was playing, practicing to the point where I could sometimes get a perfect page (when no one was around), but not perfect enough that I could guarantee it, so every time I preform and get nervous, it all went downhill from there.
Recently, I decided to try something different when I was practicing for a competition. I actually spent hours just practicing each hand over and over again, until I was able to play it perfectly. When I actually played my piece in front of a judge, I was amazed that I didn’t make any obvious mistakes!
I really wished there was a mental trick to cure my nervousness, but I couldn’t find any. I don’t think there is a trick to allow you to be able to play a perfect pieces without practicing, you have to put the hours in. You need to be able to play the piece without having to think about it, so when you get nervous and your mind turns to other things, your hand so played there necessary roles.
A good way to practice is to be able to play your right hand and left hand separately without looking at music. It is like buying insurance, every time you practice you are paying the premium, so when you perform and lose focus, the muscle memory (insurance) backs you up and you don’t lose everything (mess up). Also practice at a slower tempo, no matter how boring it is, it is worth it. Finally, when you can play the piece at full tempo: Find a professional’s recording of the piece on Spotify or YouTube, and wear headphones so that you can’t hear your own piano. Then you want to play the music, while also playing the piece (right hand only first!). In this way you can get the feeling, the style, and the flow that piece needs (as the professionals should play the piece… professionally). Then slowly reduce the volume of your headphones, so you can hear both yourself and the music. This will make your piece sound much more professional.