Kevin Tompkins started a very interesting discussion about handling nerves just before and while performing. We all know 1000 tricks to calm ourselves down on a performance day but just before and while performing is another story!
Kevin said something almost everyone has experienced: being all right until the last moment when the nerves are impossible to control
I want to explore something very closely related to this topic: what can you think during the performance before yours, and while playing. It's proven that it has a direct impact on your playing and I have always read a lot about this. I have noticed the huge difference (if I compare my playing when I am doing my little "thinking routine" and when I'm not) of course you don't become a wonderful player from this alone, but it surely helps...
In a previous posting, I said that my best trick was to imagine I was my idol (since a musician that I respect very much once suggested me to try this) It's true, but I think saying it like this is kind of basic and sounds pretentious + the art of thinking the good thing that can improve your playing goes way beyond this!
I would be curious about knowing what is your thinking routine since it can be very inspiring for everyone and interesting to see the differences between people. For some persons, thinking a specific thing is very efficient and for some others, the same thing is very stressful! So may I start off and I'm taking courageously the risk to have all the V.comers laughing at me... and after all, laughing is good for our health! lol
In my opinion, thinking routines can help a beginner as well as a pro! At the same time, it forces you to focuss on something else that your stress symptomes!
I've just posted a blog about a few hours ago describing in such details every step of a concert : the minutes before the performance, while and after etc (for exemple, I even said that walking to fast to the stage was bad for increasing the heart rate which is quite obvious!!!) since I have read so much about this and wanted to combine these tricks with my experience as an amateur student but it was way to complex and long. SORRY for those who read the whole thing it looked like a PHD work and it was not my intention! I have a tendency to write too much and it can be quite confusing for any reader! In short, I just wanted to say that I think of these things and it help me alot:
- I associate words or mental images with behaviours and always talk to myself when I feel that I become stressed. A psychologist said in an article that to see a red pannel with the word STOP on it helps to realease the tension and stress. I also have a word ex :be relax (I said another expression in the other blog but I realize that it didn't make sense at all in english since I speak french and tried to traduce it!) that I say to myself each time I am tense while playing and it works!
- see you and your pianist as a duet. In fact, as a student, I consider myself lucky to work with such an experiment musician. I find the term "accompagnist" would better apply to me! It is team work and I'm not alone!
- I always talk to myself for the technical details such as: more bow, less bow, more vibrato here, play this at the point etc! It is comforting because it gives me the impression to know what I'm doing
- If I see some one in the audience, I try to stay focus and imagine that no one is there.
- If I approch a frightening passage, I say my magic word (in my head) and then it is the time to play the game of pretending to be your number one idol! Just to get in the confident mood no more because the techcnical issues are the main thing to think of and I think that being to emotional or dancing while playing is not good because you lose your focus! Emotions is for the audience! I know this could start a debate but it's like shoulder rests: only personal opinions!
- when I finish, I try to not forget to smile because even if I can be dissapointed, why should I involve everyone who is happy in my technical problems! Smiling is just showing your gratitude to the persons who listen to you and your... mistakes!
I think this is the essential of my other too long posting and I welcome everyone to tell us what is his or her way of thinking in order to play better. Is it seeing a wonderful beach, picture the audience in their underwear with rubber chickens on their heads (seriously some do this trick!) or seeing theeirselves in a gorgeous hall etc I mean everything is ok if it allow one to play better so go on if you want to share your thinking routines!
I though it could be an interesting and maybe funny topic!
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Buri's latest blog is so interesting and someone submited a comment about positions! It gave me a wounderful idea. I would like to share an efficient method that I invented for myself to learn my positions after being so frustrated that no one and not a website could be clear ennough about them! I strongly believe, even if I am not a teacher, that it would be fantastic for children. I find it awful that ,to often, some teachers in order to teach the kids to use their ears to find the notes don't give them a drawing of the fingerboard with the notes and positions on paper. The poor students have a hard time to put a mental picture of the finger board in their heads and I believe that a mental picture can help to progress faster. It can take for ever and be really confusing to learn the anatomy of the fingerbord with only your ear. I made myself some charts (on paper) with four lines (each line was a string) and I made some frets like on a guitar on each semi-tone and placed dots only on the notes of a C scale at the beginning to not have a too full chart but that was a matter of taste. By doing this, I had an idea of the spacing between each notes depending on if it is a semitone or a whole tone. I did one chart of the whole finger board and one for each specific position. I learned a new one each week. (of course you have to find your notes with your ear but I though that the FIRST STEP was to see a picture in my head of the finger board because it would allow me to know buy heart where is each note before playing it) I also saw the finger board as a whole (a logical system) instead of "seeing" or knowing only the notes of my pieces and studies without knowing what was around them. I saved so much time and could progress much faster than if I would have waited after my teacher to teach me where to put my fingers... Of course, since memorization is not a task that children like, it would be a good idea to do it like a game. In group lessons, the teacher could put some animal faces on the different notes on a giant chart of the finger board and ask each kid to choose an animal and name the note of his "animal" etc (you know what I mean). At school, we all know that some children learn by ear, others have to see the concept and others have to do it. Well, violin is perfectly suited for those who learn by ear and those who have to learn hands on but what about those who have to see the concept on paper? However, it is only my opinion and I have never tested this method with anyone! If someone tries it, let me know if it works!
Have a nice day!
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