Help! I have resting bitch face when I play!
Sorry for the language but I recently videoed myself playing and I have the biggest b*^%#* face ever!!! I’m performing a concerto w an orchestra in May and I want to have some video/photos from it but not looking like what i saw! Friends have told me to “smile when you play” but that’s hard to do! Any advice???
You shouldn’t smile too much when you play a meditative piece, IMO.
Watch April Verch. She's got that same Mona Lisa smile on all the time. Probably something she cultivated for just the same reason.
Gil Shaham almost always has a smile on his face when playing, a trait I've tried to emulate without much success so far. I guess like anything else on the violin, you just have to practice.
I'd smile too if I could play like that.
Expression is in the eyes, not the lips. Try to "throw" with your eyes to whoever is watching what you are feeling in that passage. Once you can "talk" with your eyes, the rest of the face follows.
I didnt recall seeing videos of Oïstrakh smiling. Neither of Heifetz. Or Kogan. Or Menuhin. Or Ginette Neveu. Why do you need to smile if you dont feel like it? Just do what comes to you naturally, as long as it doesnt make you tense or causes damage.
I think you can practice smiling. I had a similar experience several years ago when I first started recording myself on video for an online contest. I hated the expression on my face when I played. I blogged about it here, in what I hope is a humorous way:
Folks often say that violinists look sad, when they are really just concentrating. Which is usually a good thing!
I look like a little kid trying to hide candy in her mouth when I play. Happens on both violin and my second instrument piano :/
Adrian is right. So is Tammuz. It's concentration, intense focus. You can see it on the faces of most skilful musicians in performance. Don't worry about it! Stay focused on the music. You are doing something profound, which requires the full force of your mind and body, not grins or smiles. Leave the smiles for after the performance.
This is the funniest topic name I've seen here so far=)
could be worse- https://weirdestband.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/joeymolinaro.jpg
I always liked that I looked angry when playing. I wouldn't want to smile, personally.
Clearly this is something that troubles you, but as i understand things it is common for solo instrumentalists to sometimes display facial postures and expressions which they have little control over. I discussed this once with a former colleague who worked in neurology, as we had both seen a concert by a UK string quartet whose first violinist made unusual expressions throughout the concert. She explained it as overspill from the limbic system, explaining that concentrating on music sometimes allows neurological systems which we are not usually aware of to affect the motor system and others.
I don't have RBF, but I do play expressively and make faces (which are not exactly flattering) - hoping to work on that because if there's a passage that I'm having trouble with it shows on my face. :/
I practice my grimaces at the gym in front of the mirrors. If one doesn't make convincingly painful grimaces, how would others know that you are making any sort of serious effort? ;-)
One of the many things I find annoying about the Andre Rieu orchestra is the fixed smiles on all the musicians, who have clearly been instructed to play that way. A rictus is not a good look on a violinist IMO.
I also don't have RBF, but I was shocked to discover after the first time I videoed myself that I was doing the very best social media duck face! Not a good look on a 60 year old fat bloke.
If you are doing it while you play, it is NOT a Resting Bitch Face.
My natural smile looks more like a leer. It's getting dangerous to go anywhere. ;-)
RBF is so behind the times. Duck face is so much in vogue in selfies :)) - should classical violinists jump up on the bandwagon?
I'm surprised no one asked you to post a video. It seems to be the latest go-to thing around here when someone has a technical problem. Why not for RBF :-D
I think that as long as you aren't making your face tense or your body tense, then it's pretty irrelevant. Although, I bet a good number of soloists do at some point cultivate a particular kind of stage persona, but I think that's for the people in the audience that are asleep until it's time to give the standing ovation.
Overspill from the limbic system? Really? When my limbic system overspills it usually affects my third finger, not my facial expressions.
I’m a smiler......I smile at dogs playing, people at the drive through....even at kids behaving badly (it is kind of funny)......literally smiling most of the time even for no reason. But I look very similar to the “active bitch face” as per Ludwig above when playing. Personally I’m proud of having a bit of a bitch face once in a while.....ironic it happens when I’m at one of my happiest times though........:)
We are not Broadway actors. As long as you're not actually glaring at the audience, nobody will care.
In my opinion, turning smiling into a sexist issue is bogus. EVERYONE should smile more. It's good for you. Smiling works backwards into the person, making you feel better; try it and you'll see. Also, once you learn to make it a habit you will be surprised how many people will smile back at you. I started doing it when I didn't feel good, to make myself feel better, and eventually it stuck. People who try to shame you for smiling---dump them, now.
Lillian Lu, me too! Either that or I look angry.
Robbie Daug, thanks for the anthology of soloist facial expressions! Very cool that somebody here mentions Ritchie Blackmore --I saw Rainbow in concert in 1980, before I knew his name --they were touring with Blue Oyster Cult. I know he's had a long and varied career, but what I know and love best by him is the very earliest stuff with deep Purple, especially The Book of Taliesyn --ironically an album he said he never much liked!
I prefer the deeply meditative and profoundly focused faces of violinists like Anne Akiko Meyers, Hillary Hahn, or Anne-Sophie Mutter in performance. Or James Ehnes. Etc. Trying to manage smiles or manipulate facial expressions while you're performing something as complex as a concerto, with an orchestra, seems to me very poor advice for the o.p., and a potential recipe for artistic failure. Focus on the music. As I said before, save the smiles and grins for the audience once it's over.
In terms of the process of working on this, some suggestions: I had a teacher who made me purposely make horrible scrunchy faces in a passage first, then relax the face and not make a face in the second run through. This technique was really helpful to get in touch with what my facial muscles actually do, and to be aware of them...so that when we say to ourselves "relax your face" we have practiced what that feels like and we know how to do it. Another option is to practice having your face reflect the music, i.e. to channel the emotions of the phrase through your face. I think facial expression that mirrors the music is much preferred by the audience :). Trick No. 3: Each day you practice pick one region of your face to relax (eyebrows, lips, jaw etc) during practice (and video tape to see if you are accomplishing it) - again so you integrate the ability to "let go" in your face into the daily practice routine. See if any of those work for you. Good luck!
That's what's great about pets. They love you even when your facial expressions aren't the best. ;-)