How do top violinists like Maxim Vengerov, Hilary Hahn, and Itzhak Perlman give so many concerts on stage and never get nervous or mess up? Whenever I go to competitions, my hands get really cold and stiff and I start shaking on the stage, and I find it almost impossible to pull out my natural musicality. My playing is literally reduced to 30% of what I'm able to produce during practice alone, and this really frustrates me as I want to be able to perform my absolute best on stage. I have won a couple of regional competitions before, but I feel like I can be even better if I could consistently perform on stage without shaking( which makes me mess up), and getting cold and stiff fingers. Any suggestions on how to fix this?
All you have to do to avoid mistakes is prepare 200%. That way, if you lose half your preparation because of nerves, your playing will still be perfect. Hahn and Vengerov might not lose half, but they're still over-prepared. So your goal needs to be: Prepare 200%, and figure out your nervous response well enough to change that 30% to 50%. And eventually you can move beyond that.
Maybe some people never get nervous (like me).
Besides competitions and recitals and auditions, try to perform as often as you can -- even in offbeat venues like a garage, or an empty gym at school, or a local park. I've done all three -- and then some. Take every opportunity you can get to let people hear you -- provided you're not disturbing the peace.
The first thing you should know is that if you make a mistake in performance the chances are that 99% of the audience will not notice, and the 1% who do will themselves have been there, bought the tee-shirt, and will understand.
The best and fastestway to cope the problem is a theater course and sceenic motions. After you are familiar how to act as a brave self-confident person, you go on the stage with your violin and play there a super star violinist performing his favourite piece. )))
Confidence is not a magical / miraculous state of mind, but a result of repeated success in doing a certain activity through a long period of time.
I was just coming on here to tell you to buy and read "The Inner Game of Music."
My teacher actually told me many professional violinists do get nervous to the point where they actually throw up before concerts. She said it was no use trying not to be nervous because some people (cough cough me) are just born with such a personality that they can’t help it. She also told me the best way to minimise the adverse effect is to concentrate on what to do NEXT, instead of what is happening NOW or MEASURES AGO when performing because the moment we take eyes off the road, crashes happen. It’s also important to realise you are performing because you are good enough to be in that particular situation to combat the looming feeling of inadequacy that follows nervousness. I still struggle with it, but I’ve gotten a lot better.
I missed your detail about cold hands. I agree with Jim Hastings that beta-blockers have been reported to make that particular symptom worse.
It gets easier with experience, I think. And if you're performing with orchestras, repeated rehearsals with the same orchestra can help, if you have that opportunity. The challenge for touring soloists is that they have to play with one new orchestra after another, and in one new venue after another.
Sometimes nerves never go away. You can read books, attend classes, take pill, etc. And you still get nervous.
I wonder if one gets nervous easily, why to be a violinist? S/he should choose to be an academic scholar since less contact and performance is required. Music performance is performance, should let audiences see your performance overtly, not only in recordings.
"I wonder if one gets nervous easily, why to be a violinist? S/he should choose to be an academic scholar since less contact and performance is required."
To Paul Deck:
@K Ch. Interesting point about taking acting lessons to achieve an enviable on-stage confidence and presence. But - and it's a big BUT - that just won't work if the performer hasn't done the hard work in the practice room, getting technique and the music both to that 100% level where they're not only doing it right but – critically - can't get it wrong (the difference between a good amateur and a professional, btw).
This is what I wrote here about 10 years ago. I have a lifetime of experience playing without and with beta blockers.Now that I'm in my 80s I hope my solo performing days are over -- especially for the sake of any who might hear me.
These soloists have been performing regularly since their mid-teens, which would somewhat take the edge off over time. They have also been told "you are the best violinist in the world" for the last however many years, which can't hurt! However, to tell the truth, some people just find it easier than others.
For cold hands specifically, try fingerless fleece gloves. They are available as "wristies" from Shar. I find I can wear the right hand one as suggested but I have to pull the left hand one down just over my wrist because it's too confining to have some cloth over my palm.
I'm one of those people who gets nervous in her lessons (which I know is ridiculous, but it happens). All of the reading/application of the Inner Game of Music and other performance type suggestions are not helpful to me. Would be nice if there were other options out there for those of us who get horribly nervous playing in a one-on-one setting (let alone in a group, or performing).
@Pamela, I'm not surprised, because during a one-to-one lesson the pupil is (and should be!) under very close scrutiny for the duration. I've felt the effect on occasion, but I've looked on it as, if anything, a more severe, but also extremely useful, test than anything a symphony orchestra or other ensemble is going to land on me. I think this may be why I don't get nervous when playing in concerts - maximum concentration is always there, and I'm usually not aware of the audience until we stand to acknowledge the applause.
@ tutti violindo: Yes, exactly. That was the point I was making.
Funny question: Has anyone ever peed on stage due to nervousness? (Kids included)
It happened once many years ago on stage with a very young child prodigy (I really don't recall the name). As soon as the lad finished his piece and went off stage, leaving a puddle behind, a cleaning lady of extravagant proportions came on to rapturous applause with a bucket and mop to do the necessary.
To Trevor: we do talk about the situation, when one did all the homework and noe needs to present his best.
I read that Kreisler washes his hands in warm water before performance to combat cold hands. There are products called hot hands, all my conservatory friends from Asia were all using it. It may help you. Drink a cup of hot water before performance may help also.