Violinist and Teacher in Tulsa, Oklahoma

Fall 2012 Recital


Sunday, December 11th, 2011

The Fall recital got put off due to various circumstances (one of which was my change in employment) until almost Winter! Indeed, it has been cold enough the past few nights to finally kill off the mosquitoes! But Winter doesn’t begin officially until next week, so I still made in under the wire. It will be Thursday at 6:30pm.

Those of you who subscribe to my newsletter have already seen this, but it’s definitely timely and worth repeating:

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What is it about performing for a crowd that makes us nervous? Shaking hands, sweating, thumping heart, flushing, or a number of other things seem to conspire to make it harder to perform.

In reality, the folks who are coming to hear you at your recital are your supporters. They wish you well. They aren’t there to chase you down or beat you up. But you still feel a “fight or flight” response.

Here are some tips that will help with recital nerves:

  • Be prepared! Practice the hard parts until they aren’t hard any more. If you haven’t, you’ll know you aren’t really ready, and that will make it worse. In addition to having your piece well-prepared, make sure you have everything you need before you make the trip to the recital hall. Pack an extra set of strings! I always take an extra bow, even though I very rarely need one. But having it there “just in case” is a good feeling. Be sure to pack a soft cloth or handkerchief to use to dry your hands just before you go on stage.
  • Practice performing. This is part of being prepared, but is often neglected. The recital should not be your first attempt to perform the piece. Play it for your friends and family. Play it for the video recorder.
  • Remind yourself that you are “showing off.” After all, you’ve done a lot of hard work getting prepared, and you deserve the opportunity to show off.
  • Give yourself permission to make some mistakes. Nobody’s perfect. When I practice the hard parts, I usually come up with a “plan B” that I can use just in case I flub. Having a “plan B” actually reduces the chance that you will need it!
  • If you make a mistake, just pick up and go on. Don’t dwell on it, and don’t let it cause you to stumble to a halt. Most of your audience doesn’t know your piece, so they might not even notice if you left a note out, or reversed something.
  • Focus. Focusing is sometimes easier if you make a conscious effort to listen and coordinate with your accompanist or your duet partner. In fact, in my own experience, duets are less nerve-wracking than solos simply because I’m too busy communicating with my performance partner to think about getting nervous.
  • Dress appropriately. Don’t wear anything that is uncomfortably tight, especially shoes! But make sure your look is appropriate for the venue. For my recitals, that means a nice dress for the girls, and slacks and dress shirt for the boys (tie optional).
  • Relax. Force yourself to take several slow, complete breaths. Do some simple stretches.
  • Slow down. In performance, most folks tend to play faster than they really intended. Deliberately slow down and work on making your rhythm very precise. Take advantage of the fact that a precise rhythm sounds faster to the audience than it does to you.
  • Perform! Stand up in a manner that says you are proud of what you are doing. Hold your head high, and don’t slump your shoulders. Finish with a flourish, and take a bow!

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