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Hi everyone,

I'm a new and excited member to Violin Lab.  I hope to be able to record myself soon so that I can get some constructive feedback.  For now, I have a question that is somewhat unrelated to playing. I am playing at an outdoor wedding tomorrow. At the rehearsal today, I had my music in a plastic sheets in a binder. This prevented the music from flying everywhere, but the wind was still turning the pages everywhere. I've thought about using those bag clips you use on chips to clip the music to the binder, but thinking I won't have time to re-clip in between some of the songs.  Any advice?  Also, any quick tips on ways to battle performance anxiety?  Thank you!

9 Responses
Posted: March 2, 2012
Last Comment: March 10, 2012

Posted: March 10, 2012

Posted: March 5, 2012

Thank you Beth, for your advice on actively keeping tension out of our hands.  I saw your clip on keeping tension out of my bow hand and am working on that. I need to do the same with my left hand, especially when it comes to shifting. Thank you again, for all your help. My husband says my playing has been sounding better since I've been watching your videos.

Beth Blackerby
Posted: March 3, 2012
Hi Jeena, fellow wedding gigger!

I play many weddings, and outdoor ones are the absolutely worst! And after all these years, I also still use clothespins. As for performance anxiety, Eileen, Anne, and J. David gave excellent advise. Like J. David's wife, it never really goes away, but truly, the more you perform, the better it will get. I think your body slowly teaches itself to channel the nerves in more positive ways. For some strange reason, I put nervous energy in my legs when I play. I don't notice at the time, but the day after a performance with some solo part, my legs are sore.

I too believe that as we continue to teach our bodies how to keep unwanted tension out of our hands and arms (the kind that makes the bow shake and fingers become unreliable), that we in turn learn how to "control" the nerves better, which is to say that we can consciously tell tension to "stay away". When I'm playing a "high stakes" gig, and I feel the nerves, I am much better now at identifying the squeezing and telling myself to relax (both grips). As a younger player (especially in college) I would fall apart. The tension was so bad, that I would crash and burn. I had some horrible performances and auditions. Eileen's point about keeping perspective is so true. The audience only catches a fraction of what you're hearing, and will probably never even notice little mistakes. What's more important is your commitment to the music, as well as the preparation. You can always hear and appreciate a performance when the player knows the material well (flaws and all), and as Anne stated, plays with heart. 

Posted: March 3, 2012

Well, the wedding went pretty well.  The biggest obstacle was the coldness.  The wedding was outside, after sunset, and a coolfront's coming through so it was just very cold and windy. I had my pages clipped to my binder, but my whole binder got blown closed, so I had to clip it to the stand. I actually enjoyed the experience and don't know how I was shivering so much, yet was able to stay steady enough to play when it was time. The coldness definitely affected my playing, but I think everyone else was so cold themselves, hopefully they extend me some grace. Thanks again for the tips. They did help.

Posted: March 3, 2012

Thank you all for your advice. I will let you know how it goes!

Posted: March 3, 2012
Hi Jeena and Welcome,
Regarding performance anxiety, I'm quite prone to it too.  I asked my wife about it, she's been a bagpiper since she was small and has piped for weddings, funerals and everything in-between.  I was curious to know when it went away for her.  Amazingly, she said she still gets it every time before she plays.  You'd never know it by looking at her, she''s so cool and confident.  I asked her how she manages the emotional aspect of events like these and she said she just focuses on the job she's been asked to do and sets everything else aside - it's not about her, its about them.  All in all, I think that some degree of performance anxiety is probably a healthy and natural thing, now I'd be worried if I didn't get it. Have fun at the wedding! 

Posted: March 3, 2012
Another thought on your concern about turning pages....what if you have all your music in a binder/spiral notebook....perhaps you already do......then use paper clips to clip the sheets together, back to back, and have a tab of some sort...piece of colored tap....on the edges of the sheets at verying levels, so you can easily snag the tab and turn to the right page.   I'm not sure I'm even visualizing that little explanation correctly myself ...so not sure it  makes sense.

Anyway...the weight of the paper clips, or whatever you use, might help to keep the papers in control or less likely to be blown about......HECK....put a whole row of paper clips along the bottom edge of  you papers to weigh them down a bit.   That might help !   ;-)

Posted: March 3, 2012
I use clothespins myself....they're cheaper for one.   As to the anxiety...what Anne suggested is helpful.  I regularly have to deal with anxiety, for one it's directly connected  to my confidence...or lack thereof.....in what I'm playing at any particular time.

The best thing you can do for that is to practice your pieces and know them well.  Do those breathing/relaxing techniques before you practice and also before you perform, as Anne suggested.  That builds routine in your protocol (?)....makes the performance seem very like your non anxiety ridden practice routine.....and so it's easier to get into that relaxed confident state.  

I also try to mentally put it all into perspective.....the people I play for are still going to "like" me.....even if I mess up...lol.  It's no big deal as long as I'm giving it  my best.  Putting those mistakes quickly behind you as you play...and moving onto what's next is a very good skill to have !   It's a wonderfully freeing thing to be able to easily shrug those off and continue in focus.  Nobody else is going to remember...or probably even notice...those little goofups.  Maybe another musician/violinist would...but they soooo understand since they've been there done that before themselves.

Practice and learn you music....relax and have fun !   ;-)


Anne aMaudPowellFan
Posted: March 3, 2012
Hi Jeena, welcome to Violin Lab.

As to performance anxiety: my quick tip is to breath, counting three for breathing in and five for out, or something at that rate that feels comfortable. Do that every day, and imagine yourself in vivid detail how you perform your pieces at your best. Try to experience your playing well in your body, feel every movement and sensation. Do this also right before you perform. Beth suggest to sing along in your mind while you play. That is also good. And accept whatever happens. Do not dwell on any mistakes. The future starts afresh everu single moment... Finally, you are there for a reason, because you are able to give joy to your audience. So, enjoy yourself, and it will transfer.

As to the wind: old-fashioned cloth pins or office clips might be easier to re-fasten.

Good luck, and let us know how it goes!