Shaky Arm Syndrome: Violinists and Stage Fright

ViolinistIt’s one thing to experience stage fright.  But imagine being up on stage, trying to hold your violin steady and place your bow correctly, when your arm is shaking like a leaf during the fiercest Chicago winds.

The mind is a powerful thing, and the physical effects that nerves can have on the body are sometimes overwhelming. Let one negative thought slip, and you might find your heart racing, your palms sweating, and your shoulders tensing – none of which are good for your playing.

So how can you, as a violinist, cope with stage fright and deal with that pesky shaking arm? For one, bow exercises can be helpful: practice moving the bow and keeping a steady tone at all times. However, the best advice we can give you is to prepare, perform and reflect.  The better you prepare, the more likely you’ll be able to relax, take a deep breath and have confidence in your abilities.  The more often you perform, the easier it will become over time. And when you reflect after each performance, you’ll be able to pinpoint what made you nervous, what helped, and what you need to do more of the next time.

Here are four excellent resources for overcoming stage fright and calming your nerves:

Overcoming Stage Fright: 4 Important Steps
What’s Causing Your Stage Fright?
Stop Stressing: 3 Remedies for Musical  Frustration
Predicting the Future: 3 Simple Visualization Strategies

And what if it’s too late?  The performance has passed, and your nerves got the best of you.  Don’t worry – there’s always next time.  Again, take the time to reflect on what worked and what didn’t.

You can also take a look at…

How to Bounce Back from a Bad Audition
Oops! How to Handle Your Biggest Music Flubs

As you take every opportunity to perform, eventually your confidence will override the feelings of stage fright. Play in front of your family, play for your friends, and play for strangers. The more you look fear in the eye, the easier it will become. Of course, many professional players still get nervous before a performance – the trick is just in how you cope with it. Sayonara, shaky arm!

Readers, what advice has helped YOU overcome your stage fright?  Share your tips with the community by leaving a comment below, or stop by our Facebook page to join the discussion!


Photo by Johannes Martin.

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