Showing more emotion while playing
When I play, I am usually quite stony-faced and I don't really move around - I'd really like to look more like I'm enjoying/into the music.
I actually am deep in music when I'm playing, but I've seen videos and it just looks like I'm standing there playing very still.
What I particularly want to work on is my facial expressions while playing - I had tried to find some help in showing more expression but most threads are about how to show less expression! :P
I think I show less expression because I feel a bit silly making expressions and moving around while playing.
Don't try to make faces. Heifetz never did.
It’s all in the eyebrows.
Please don't make faces on purpose and move for theatrical's sake. When people move in a way that is not honest and not natural to them, I look away because it's a distraction.
Speaking of which...
Unless you are a rock soloist don't worry about it. Your job is to provoke an emotional reaction in the audience, not react to it.
Folks often find violinists look sad. Just insist that they are concentrating. We are sound artists, not mime artists.
You might change how you dress, e.g. like Mutter, and then wouldn't have to worry about facial expressions, they, and theirs would happen all by themselves.
If you are involved when you play, it doesn’t matter wether you make faces or not.
If you aren't normally an outwardly emotional person I doubt you would be while playing.
Great string players don't move around just to be theatrical. They move their legs and bodies to facilitate the arm motion they are trying to get.
I think it's very likely that you are hearing something wrong acoustically in your playing, perhaps something vague that could be called a "lack of emotion", and then when seeing your face, you naturally attribute the problem to your physical expressions.
To the O.P. - why?
I am not a professional muscian but have (on various instruments) performed in regional sympthony, classical groups, jazz groups, etc. Like most of us here, I have been to lots of live concerts and viewed many more via media. I find two things really distracting. The first is a musician (or conductor) with exaggerated body movement and facial grimaces or contortions. As someone already mentioned, it is about the music and not the physical antics of the performer. The other thing, and sorry if this is old school, but I find it very distracting if a performer is covered with tatoos.
Compare these two outstanding performances of Beethoven's "Kreutzer" Sonata:
Personally I'm really tired of the entire Kopatchinskaja shtick (the faces, exaggerated motions, scores all taped together on multiple stands, etc.). I think she hits all nine of the moves in Jeewon's YouTube link. I find it all very tiring, completely unnecessary, and really distracting. I've never seen a good/great performance and thought to myself - "gee, if the performer had only mad faces, and danced around more - that would have put it over the top!" Take everyone's advice here - play as you're comfortable with and don't try to show more emotion. It doesn't add anything, and is really more likely to just turn people off. Blow 'em away with your playing, not you're foot moves.
Dear John, judging by how you write, I believe I have already dealt with some of your hateful and uneducated comments on YouTube.
Why is taping together scores a bad thing, or a shtick? Tons of people tape together scores.
@ Frieda That's a serious one. Right up there with putting too much rosin on your bow. I like tape especially in outdoor windy conditions.
@Roman - No idea what you're talking about regarding YouTube. I don't have an account there and have never posted anything there.
I sometimes make faces not because I want to but because it sort of just happens. I usually am singing the piece I’m playing in my head and I think my lack of facial-muscular control is what contributes to it transferring onto my face. I found myself moving my lips when I looked at a recording of a practice session which I didn’t even know I did. Making faces for me usually helps with immersion, but from what you just said it seems like it would be more of a distraction than an aid. Music face for me personally is indicative of comfort and confidence because I only do it when I’m unaware of people potentially judging me (I don’t make faces when I play with strangers because I’m too busy worrying about the way I sound); are you tense at all, physical, mental or otherwise?
It looks to me as though Perlman has trained himself to minimize the natural motion of his lips that link to what his hands are doing. I have not done that so I must look like hell when I play – at least I do to me. I think many of us have links between various muscles and nerves that result in autonomous movements of some muscles during conscious movement of others. Is it worthwhile to work to overcome that?
Anyone who has listened to Keith Jarrett (a jazz pianist) knows that musicality is sometimes very directly connected to the performer's vocal cortex. It's entirely organic. My hunch is that Jarrett uses that to keep his improvisations honest -- they have to be genuine musical ideas, not licks that happen to fit into his hands.
Very interesting discussion. The issue, it seems to me, is one of communication with an audience, not by the sound of the music alone, but by the visual aspects. In the world of popular and rock music, it seems to me that the visual often takes the attention away from the actual sound of the music (and sometimes I fear that is by design). Anyway, when it comes to classical violin music, the question is indeed how does one genuinely keep the focus on the music rather than on making faces or dancing around. And in this regard, everybody is perhaps a little different. There are those (like Heifetz) who do not appear to try to do anything to visually "get in the way" of the music, and those who literally dance the stage and make dramatic faces, grunts, gasps, etc.
I don't know, Sander. Maybe genuineness is overrated. Was it a great performance or wasn't it? What if your doctor has wonderful bedside manner and excellent medical knowledge and judgment ... but deep in his heart he only cares about your recovery so he can have better ratings on social media.
Hey, Paul, good point, and I agree. And I think particularly in the world we live in there's too much focus on everything but the music.
I've had the fortune of listening to some really good live chamber music by the Arties Chamber Orchestra. The violinists did show expression but it seemed very natural to me- particularly when the passage was chirpy and fun. Or consider Martha Argerich(though not a violinist but a tremendous musician none the less) for example- her expressions are spot on and resonate with what you would be feeling listening to her performance. I do agree with many of the comments above that exaggerated movements are a huge distraction.
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