Quick ideas for helping your student or your child build confidence on stage
For the music student, plenty of time goes into developing a good technique and learning repertoire. One aspect of being a musician which is often less considered is the art of performance: getting up on stage, or in front of others, and playing at your best.
I believe that practising and performing well are almost like two separate, but obviously interrelated skills, which both need cultivation. Here is a list of a few things your student or child can try to help build confidence on stage.
PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE...PERFORMING
There is nothing which prepares you quite as well for a big exam or concert, as having plenty of practice getting up and playing in front of other people. Take every concert or workshop opportunity which you can find. Ask anyone at home to sit and listen to a performance of your pieces, or you can even organise a small informal run through of your music for friends.
PUTTING YOURSELF ON THE SPOT
I find that emulating the slightly stressful feeling of performance can be done in a number of ways, including those listed above. One other way which this can be achieved is recording yourself play: the pressure of performing your music for an unforgiving listener, and having to keep playing without stopping are both helpful for emulating some of the sense of a performance. Another way to do this is to launch straight into the most difficult part of a piece, or scale/ arpeggio, without warming up (please use this with caution, for some music a warm up is very necessary/ sensible!)
FIND SOMETHING TO FOCUS ON
Training your mind to be helpfully directed during performances is crucial. If you spend plenty of time worrying about whether you are playing well or not, or in tune, you are not really going to be helping yourself perform at your best. There are plenty of ways of mentally preparing yourself for performance. One of the things which I like to focus on while performing is creating a beautiful sound, and, particularly in a new venue, how the sound of my cello works in this particular acoustic. Of course, if you are performing with someone, focusing on the chamber music interaction which you have is a very helpful and necessary aspect of the performance for you to be concentrating on.
One of the most helpful sources I have found for building performance confidence is The Inner Game of Music by Barry Green and Timothy Gallwey (please note this is an affiliate link).
If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to my email list here!
Teaching vibrato is one area where I feel I can never have enough resources. In this article, I share the two exercises I use to introduce students to the movements involved in creating vibrato. However you choose to apply vibrato, and the historical issues involved, are another discussion - but I do think that students should be able to play with a constant vibrato as a first step, developing a more varied approach to its application later.
Polishing / dusting the fingerboard
This exercise develops the up and down movement made by the hand in vibrato, and it is often the first introduction I offer to vibrato.
Oscillations in time
I’m trying something new for a series of posts on Tuesday: blog posts looking at how we find and keep inspiration as musicians, bloggers, writers. Some of the featured articles will include ideas on:
Bonnie's Cello Blog
Thoughts on music learning and teaching, handouts and more. I also blog on a range of other issues as diverse as writing, renovating and cooking, click here!
Hire me to write
Grab this blog button!