Are you a two-timer?
My professor at Eastman told me about her time at college and how her teacher once called her two-timing Bonnie. That means you begin a piece then stop because you made a mistake. Then you begin again and finish flawlessly.
I heard Trevor Wye speak about this type of issue when it happens in the middle of a piece and he labeled it repeating history.
Believe it or not, it happens to everyone somewhere in their career. What you do about it can make or break you. Whether it happens at the beginning of a piece or somewhere in the middle it is an issue that you can conquer.
The first step is to make sure you have done your homework, that you have learned the parts. You are never going to work through this problem if it is not already in your fingers. If you are sure that you know the parts, then the problem is all, wait for it….mental.
Our brain is what hones in on our progress and keeps us from moving forward. When the little voice in your head brings up an element of doubt, then its all over. Once you have played that beginning passage and you restart, you have more confidence because now you know you can do it.
The best way to get past this is to teach yourself that you can do it. My method for fixing this problem and training my brain is to play that piece or excerpt several times in a day but spontaneously.
Play it cold.
Pull it out and play it when you are in the middle of practicing something else.
Play it through and make sure you go past the stumbling block.
Your brain has to acknowledge that you are confident as soon as you pick that flute up and put it to your lips. It has to learn – as do you – that there are no second chances when in an audition or recital situation. You do not have the ability to “try again” in these situations. Walk into a practice room first thing in a day and play through. Build yourself up mentally. Learn that you can play that piece while there are distractions, while you are not warmed up, while you are tired, while you are excessively warmed up. This will teach your inner doubt to go away. Its a method that really works but take time to develop.
Now, stop repeating history and learn to perform with self-confidence. You can do it!