i get distracted very easily when i play. for instance when i'm playing and someone get's up to walk across the room i totally get distracted and i lose my place on the piano.  how the heck do i not let these things bother me and block all the distractions.  i'm also self conscious person so somtimes i think that people leave because they don't like the way i play and don't want to sit through it.
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i don't have a good answer for you, but i'm the same way. just last night i had three diffenent people come up to me and ask me where is the restroom. i'm still not at the point where i can really talk and play, so just nod and mumble "in the back"

somehow i can ussually blockout the crowd (which isn't always a good thing) sometimes i'll be so unaware of what's happening, that i'll do stupid things like end a song when a couple get's up to dance.
once while playing solo piano at a wedding reception, i was in the middle of an improv solo and some lady asked me where the john is.  without hesitation, and without missing a beat, i told her.  i think it was at that point i decided to quit playing gigs:)

i've realized over the years that what sets the greats apart from the not so greats, is their heads.  the most important thing to work on is accepting and appreciating your playing regardless of what level you may be and where you stand amongst other musicians.  there's always someone better and someone worse, and in the end who really cares?  

the answer: or egos.  

try to stay outa your head and enjoy the show
*our egos*
one of the great secrets to playing music is that it is very much like juggling.

i remember how one piano teacher of mine in denver would have his head up and carry on full blown conversations with the folks seated around the piano while never missing a beat and playing great stride style piano (paul kessler).  

i was soooo impressed, because like littlerascal if anything distracted me, my focus would immediately shift and i would totally lose it musically.

i asked him how he pulled off that stunt, and he said "oh hell, kid. it's just a trick" (that answer didn't help me very much).

now decades later i can do the same thing. how and why? because the music is so ingrained into my reflexes that i do not have to shift my entire mind to put my focus into speech.

the fingers are so well trained that they "have a mind of their own".

as the language of music becomes more and more familiar to you, this will happen for you too. i promise.
oscar peterson likes to wipe his forehead with a hanky a lot when he plays.  i'm convinced he does this partly to show off.  he'll just grap a hanky and start wiping while the right hand is playing like lightning.
7, i've been playing for 3 years now and somtimes my hand just automatically goes where i need to play, but 1 little distraction messes that up.  i think i have extreme perfomance anxiety.  when someone asks me to play piano, the first feeling i get is adrenaline and nervous.  my heart starts beating really fast and i can't foucus on my playing because 5 people are watching me play.   should i get psycological help?
i have the opposite problem, i can get so far into the music that i miss other things, such as the club owner telling me to quiet down because he's on his cell phone (just happened :)

but i can carry on a conversation and play these days, and a lot of the time i can still play through the song. if it's a deep conversation i'll just vamp some blues or somethign 2-5-1 progression or something.

i found that if i learn how to sing the words of a song, accompany myself on the piano, it frees me up, like i really know the song. i won't sing in public, but learning a tune that way is really helpful.

the more of that stuff you do, the easier it gets and pretty soon you can talk, sip your drink, and play lush life without losing a beat.
If I'm not back in 24 hours, call the president.

Scot is available for skype jazz piano lessons (and google hangouts, phone call, etc...)
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maybe you could try this-find a coffehouse with a piano that lets people play it without it being any big deal,there are so many "distractions" there that if you get used to being able to play in that setting,gigs where everybodys' listening to/focused on you where this kind of thing you're describing happens won't be any big deal anymore..........
stage fright is a different thing from distraction.

there have been plenty of threads here on stage fright.

if you only started studying three years ago, you might not be ready to play in public yet.

nursing homes (or old folks homes or "assisted living facilities" or whatever you want to call them) almost always have a piano around. generally if you play tastefully they will let you "entertain" for a while every so often.
for what it's worth, i actually play better in a room full of distractions where no one is listening - that is why i made the comment about being time to quit playing gigs.  i  found that in quiet concert type settings, or recording sessions where my playing was hanging out for the world to hear, (and in my paranoid perceptions, to dissect, and criticize)  i can't play.  this in my opinion is what sets a (retired) pro-player like myself, apart from the greats.

i'm thinking if i would have spent more time putting myself in the hot seat, and working on my head, i may have been able to come up with my own voice - instead of sounding like a jack of all trades, master of none...

in any case, it's all good.  i still love to play at home for my own enjoyment, and i'm slowly discovering and appreciating my own playing.

wow - this was a lot cheaper than my shrink - thanks! :)
dr. whack- i had that same problem. working in a room full of distractions, easy, but being in the spotlight as a solo pianist, that was more difficult. trio work was easy even if it was a spotlight on the band, but solo...

i quit my tuesday night jam session about a year ago, but for the last three years of it, i would force myself to jam on some tune solo piano. all eyes and ears were on me. after the first couple times it was easier than it had ever been, and from that time, being on the hot seat and doing a "concert" style performance has really been a lot of fun.  that's after i realized that people like what i do, even if i hate it most of the time.
If I'm not back in 24 hours, call the president.

Scot is available for skype jazz piano lessons (and google hangouts, phone call, etc...)
Use the contact link at the top of the page.
thanks, scot.  i'm hoping that will happen for me some day:)  i feel like i'm getting closer...
dr. whack, i hope you don't mind some company on the shrink couch.

when i'm playing by myself or around people that are not paying attention, i get this "wow" feeling hearing my own lines. but when people are paying attention, boy, does everything suffer! clearly this is the true limit of one's playing. alone, i get into a zone and can follow a nice solo line in my head and i'm just watching my hands play. in public, i lose it and everything sounds mechanical.

i've read "effortless mastery" a zillion times and listened to the meditation tapes calling yourself "great" and "master" over and over. it's helping but i agree that this draws the line between those who will move to real greatness and those who do not. you have to break this barrier. it's a toughie.
7, i do have stage fright i also have a phobia in public speaking.  i get so nervous that i throw up.
, so you should be as offensive as possible. being sloppy drunk will aid you greatly in this endeavor.
i loved playing cocktail parties and yacht club bars where you could hear the golf on tv and the buzz of conversation.  it felt like a wall you could hide behind and play without restraint. after starting to read some asian philosophy books,  i discovered that my fear was just my own ego getting in the way.  try the tao te ching.
7, you are just hilarious! i'll have to keep this mind next time i'm in public. i love these ;-)

"my music is so far ahead of its time, you'll be long dead  by the time the world recognizes my greatness" and "why must i throw my musical pearls before uneducated swine like you who will never appreciate the true genius of my artistry?"
ego is the solution for a lot of problems in performance.  maybe instead of saying i do not get distracted because i have a huge ego and i dimply do not care even a tiny little bet what my audience is doing at any given time or even what a club owner is doing at any given time except at that one exact time that he is putting cash in my hand.  instead of saying that my ego is too wildly out of control for me to suffer performance anxiety or be destracted by anything short of a nearby nuclear attack i prefer to say i am believe .... yes i believe in myself.  buddha say believe in yourself and you will not be distracted the insignificant movemants of others.   then again i think buddha had a pretty huge ego.  either way you want to look at it i think will work.
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