When string players perform in public or at an audition, many suffer from stage fright. Performance is around 80% of what one achieves in practice.
It is due to the adrenaline effect which is responsible for the ‘ fright or flight’ body hormone coming into play. Effects include tremors, inability to do long bowing, good tone, inability to focus on the repertoire at hand, fear of making mistakes, inability to recover from mistakes, worrying about mistakes which result in more mishaps, shallow breathing, sweating and many more effects.
Anxiety is apparent more during a solo performance than playing in a group.
This blog is written to help the string players who have suffered from the above symptoms of nervousness and the inability to perform to the full capacity as in practice.
Here are some of the steps to avoid stage fright; some may overlap the steps to prepare for concert also:
Reading the music at first the accompaniment helps in understanding the phrasing. It is important to practice with the piano accompanist repeatedly both the easy and the difficult parts with reference to the intonation and timing is vital to achieve a perfect , tension free performance. More the practice with the accompaniment, less the tension
4. ADEQUATE REST THE WHOLE DAY
Certainly no alcohol. Maybe a beta blocker to ally anxiety.
External appearance matters starting with the choice of shirts, coats in men and dress in women not to mention the shoes. All these may help to allay undue anxiety.
6. LEARN YOGA
Yoga helps to make to control your breathing and improve blood supply to brain.
Meditation helps concentration and improves focus. Hence less tension.
8. PUBLIC PERFORMANCES
Playing in front of your friends, grand parents, cousins, church congregation and other students builds up confidence. Get as many public performances of this sort under your belt , prior to an audition or a major performance.
Stretching exercises while waiting to perform helps to relax the muscles aound the shoulder, arm, wrist and back.
Playing slow bows either as open strings or as scales to get a pure tone and good intonation prior to going to perform helps one to relax and warm up.
11. CONTOLLED BREATHING
In general deep breaths prior to getting on to the stage help to regulate your low heart rate and also steady your nerves by keeping your fight or flight ( sympathetic tone of the nervous system) down as much as possible.
While waiting in the hall, keep a positive confident posture and the rest the violin fully tuned with the scroll up. Check your tuning with the pianist before you begin.
With all the above, learn to focus on the piece at hand to be played. The audience should not be a distraction. Playing for relatives, hospital patients and friends will prepare you for the presence of the audience.
Not a heavy meal, but 1 to 2 bananas may help taken half hour before performance. These have a high energy content, high level of potassium and beta blockers. Top performers in sports and music are known to consume bananas just prior to the event.
Some believe in talisman such as particular socks, or shirt, etc for performances. These are of psychological boosts. Anything to elevate your morale!