Stage presence is an important skill for all musicians to master. Below, violin teacher Ha-eun R. shares several tips on how to confidently pull off a showstopping violin performance…
Have you ever attended a concert in which the artist sounded better if you closed your eyes? A performer’s stage presence is more important than one might think, as a recent study has shown.
According to research, published in the PNAS journal, participants who were shown silent videos of piano competitions were able to pick out the winners more often than those who could hear the music
What this study proves is that nailing a great violin performance isn’t just about your ability to play the violin. It’s also about how you present yourself on stage.
If your stage presence is struggling, here are some helpful tips on how to nail your next violin performance.
1. Watch Where You Stand
You’re the star, not an extra! Be mindful of where you stand on stage, as your placement affects your sound projection. The violin’s F-hole should be facing the audience to facilitate sound projection.
What’s more, if you’re playing with music, try to keep the stand from obscuring your face. Otherwise it may look like you’re performing for your music stand.
If possible, book some time to play in the venue with your violin teacher present so you can determine where onstage is best for you to stand.
2. Avoid Distracting Behaviors
You don’t want to divert the audience away from your violin performance with distracting behaviors, such as foot-tapping, bobble-heading, breathing loudly, or gazing somewhere conspicuous like a high window or ceiling.
Another big issue is excessive body movement. Movement should only ever serve to match the music. If you feel yourself moving too much, try practicing in front of a mirror.
This will have the added bonus of giving you more stability, especially with shifting and bow technique. You’d be surprised how many people do this. With enough mindfulness, you can even choose to choreograph!
3. Be Cognizant of Your Audience
Always play for the people at the very back of the hall. Things that sound somewhat scratchy or harsh in the practice room can end up sounding passionate and energetic to the audience.
On the other hand, a practice room pianissimo will often not translate well in a hall. It’s not about sounding pianissimo, it’s about feeling pianissimo. Always ask your violin teacher for their opinion.
4. Display Confidence Onstage
Enter the limelight with confidence and bravado no matter how nervous you are. In other words, fake it ’til you make it!
If a violin string breaks or you play out of tune, brush it off. If you carry yourself well in the midst of adversity, the audience will admire you all the more for it.
5. Be Gracious
Finally, after you’re done with your violin performance and people are congratulating you, be gracious and thankful. Even if you think you played badly, you should act as if it went well.
This is not the time to nitpick about the mistakes you made. If you complain, people may end up having second thoughts about their good opinion of your violin performance.
Violin performances can be intimidating. If you can, play for experienced musicians as often as possible, such as your violin teacher. Their views can offer great insight on “stage hygiene” and professional protocol.
Remember that no musician is perfect and every violin performance adds to your musicianship as long as you learn from it!