My students performed in the Solo and Ensemble Festival in Hawaii a few months back. My observations there sparked a sparkly light bulb moment for me! Wanna know why?
This is what I saw.
After my students were finished playing, I needed to kill a little time before I had to judge. I was sitting next to another violin teacher and listened to some of his students play. One of his students was not playing particularly as well as hoped, and he leaned over and said to me, “Gosh, they get so nervous.”
Now, I agree wholeheartedly that nerves can be a problem at times….but what I really gathered from this comment was that, this teacher, whom I respect and admire, was on some level worried about what I thought!
Fast-forward an hour later…I was now adjudicating students from other string studios. In some of the studios, I saw children playing with fear. Fear of judgment, fear of not measuring up, fear of shaming their parents. I not only saw this in the students performing, I saw the same look in the parents eyes too! You could cut the room in half with a butcher knife at times, the performance tension was so thick. And for what? Some written comments that most likely were reiterating what the teacher has already been telling the student for months, and a little “thanks for participating ribbon”.
The Light bulb moment.
This is when I thought, I can help! I can merge my two loves + masters degrees (Counseling + Music) together and make a difference in the music community! And that my friends, was the day the idea of Heartstrings Performance Coaching was birthed.
So here are some things I coach both my students and my Heartstrings clients to do.
Performance Tips 101.
1. It is ok to make mistakes. Often when the students are not under severe pressure to play well is when they are free to actually rock their solo piece! I reassure them saying things like, “don’t try so hard” or, “come on now, gimme some mistakes!” (This one is my favorite! I find the students perform for me much better when I give them that permission! It’s uncanny!)
Later on, once the student is extremely comfortable performing…that is the appropriate time to teach them more defined focusing-under-pressure techniques, so they can perform flawlessly. The great thing? They are easily able to achieve it because they have a good musical self-esteem, and several “safe” performances under their belt.
2. Being a good performer means being a good actor/actress. I don’t want my students to shuffle out to the stage (no eye contact with audience), put their music on the stand (no eye contact with audience), bow, play (still staring at music or anywhere else but the audience)….bow, and shuffle back (still no eye contact with audience).
I tell them to walk out, make eye contact with the entire audience and flash em’ those pearly whites! I tell them to make the audiance think that they are beyond passionate for this one song, (even if they truly don’t love it). I want my studnets to have fun, move and sway when they play, be expressive and impressive! Bashful playing ~ not allowed! 🙂
3. You are what you think. Imagery is so important! I have them imagine in their mind what they look like rock star-ing their performance (you are what you think, just like you are what you eat). If they can see themselves playing with pure awesomeness on their instrument and they give themselves permission to sound good, well….it’s gonna be good! Please! No humble bumbles on Sunday! I only want divas and hams showing off their skill! 🙂
Have any performance tips to share?
Be a diva or a ham yourself! Come on over and share them with us on the Thriving Music Studio FB Page!
As always ~ Many thanks for taking the time to read this week’s blog! If you like what you read, please consider joining my once a month newsletter for more tips just like this!
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