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The worst thing to do on stage (if your by yourself and not sitting) is to turn your back to the audience. I have noticed that a lot of fiddlers, since they stand and move around when they play, often turn their back to the crowd, and it looks terrible. Always face the people you are playing for so they will feel more connected and welcome.

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I don't think nervousness necessarily makes a negative impression.At least, I guess it depends on where you are when you play. This Sunday a man played his fiddle in church for us. I could see his hand shaking some as he was telling us a bit about the hymn he was going to play, and his bow bounced. I don't think it was supposed to (not being a fiddler, I don't know for sure, but it resembles my bowing in front of my teacher).

Anyway, to me, I felt compassion for a man who had the courage to get up at the alter and play in a room full of people. Someday it will be me up there (at least I hope so!), and I hope I can seem confident.I hope I can relax myself so that my bow doesn't bounce, and I appear to have it together. But I also know that the people in my church love me, nad if the bow does bounce like a rubber ball, they will not think less of me for trying.

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When a performer appears on stage, members of the audience anticipate what is to follow.

The stage presence of the performer makes an audience anticipate either the performance to follow or its conclusion. (You sure don't want the audicnce to anticipate the conclusion before you've even started.)

You well know there are any number of ways that either of these aspects can be enhanced.

The 'haughty' attitude that Heifetz brought to the stage would have put off many members of an audience had he been a lesser player, unable to deliver what he promised. He had no need to enlist the audiences' affection for his persona; they were all there to see and hear Heifetz and he knew it and could play with that aspect of it (as he said, many were there just to see if he would play a wrong note).

Other players (more and more these days) try to endear themselves to a large fraction of the audience either by word or look at the beginning. That way, they are assured that they will be allowed a slip or two without fruit being thrown. Maybe it's just part of current spin-doctoring approaches to everything.

I think an attitude that speaks of three things makes for good stage presence.

1) Acknowledging the audience with a certain humility by the player (perhaps just a friendly smile, with the initial bow) indicating gratefulness that the audience has chosen to spend some time with his/her music.

2) A posture of assurance - the player is in complete control of his/her actions, while playing or resting. Even if the playing does not follow the initial promise, this person looks like "big time" in stage body language. (By the way even a child acting child-like can convey these impressions.)

3) Playing for the audience-sure, but clearly being totally absorbed in the music making. When a person is 'public speaking,' connections to the audience by eye contact help both the speaker and the audience, but in music performance, the contact must be entirely aural, any other contact breaks the spell.


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Nervous habits greatly detract from one's presence. I once attended the recital of a tenor with a glorious voice who twisted the front corner of his jacket the entire time he sang. At one point he had nearly the entire left face of the jacket balled up in his fist.

An air of confidence and control, a look of relaxed poise, and good posture count for a lot. Even approaching the stage is important.

And I am put off by a few performers whom I have seen make a beauty pageant entrance, grinning and waving to the crowd, walking forward, shoulders facing the audience. It was almost all I could do to not laugh out loud.

Always acknowledge the audience with a bow that fits who you are and what you do. I had a friend in college who always bowed by dropping dramatically from the waist, hanging there upside down with his hands clasped near the floor, snapping back up, turning 45 degrees, and repeating the whole process, back up, other side, front, hurry off stage, applause is dying. Unfortunately, this would have been his custom even had he performed a dirge. He was great, but everyone rolled their eyes over his grandiose airs.

Close your eyes only if it is appropriate to the performance. Unless you are performing for the annual conclave of the International Association of Incorrigible Voyeurs, people are not there to eavesdrop but wish to be included.

[This message has been edited by Brad Stevens (edited 05-10-2000).]

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Depends. If a young child, then a certain gentle dignity helps. Good posture, as ViolaMom just mentioned--and lack of any silliness out of nervousness. A nice bow at the end with a big smile is very good.

In the pro's: A posture of respect for the performance, if it's classical. Natural waves of expression in the face that are neither as though the performer is in physical pain or is a bloody snob about his/her essential being (even if on the inside he/she is an essential snob, whom I happen to like but hate seeing on stage--it's demeaning to the audience that paid for those expensive tickets after all).

Please avoid foot stomping during the Ravel "Tzigane"--I think I spelled that incorrectly, so please forgive. I hate foot stomping in that work--it really detracts, no matter how much like a Gypsy the performer wants to be.

Now if it's comic performance, all bets are off. Also true to folk performance. All bets are off.

In a nutshell (as if I'm capable of writing in a nutshell): An ethereal, genuine, dignity presented for the music itself--and a respectful attitude toward the audience and the orchestra. (Someone on the Fingerboard once mentioned, I think it was, Leila Josefowicz's turning in joy to an orchestra who was accompanying her performance. I thought, "Yes!! That must have been very good to have seen!! A genuine, spontaneous movement of respect coupled with joy!"



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I think that the most important thing is that the performer has an attitude that says "I'm playing this piece so that I can share it with you and you enjoy it" rather than "I'm playing this piece because you paid a lot of money to see me and I can play better than anyone else, but I only do it for the money anyway, so it doesn't matter that I'm the best musician ever". Do you know what I mean? I like it when the performer shows that he appreciates the audience and wants to gain their respect rather than the performer just expecting respect.

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Whatever you're feeling or thinking, it'll show up in your audience.

Just played for 5 classes of 2nd graders today.

The teacher clapped her hands three times for silence - I played three consecutive minor seconds (harmonically) to the delight of the kids.

Played Twinkle 3 times, had the kids sing along, each time faster than the previous.

Belted out several other songs on request.

Picked on kids - and teachers - while playing (a teacher who tapped her foot in time to the music had me wiggle my foot at her to the laughter of the kids, and some of the kids who made faces had faces made back at them).

Calmed the kids from total screaming to total silence with "Somewhere Over The Rainbow".

Ended with "Fiddler on the Roof" - quietly.

Class dismissed!

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Huang....If you're ever in the Richmond area during the school year, please let me know.

Have I got a well-prepared audience for you!

Your performance described above sounds so absolutely cool. My kids would have loved it. They enjoy a sense of humor more than anything in the world.


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Originally posted by GrandMacDuff:

Don't wear an off-the-shoulder dress.

Hmm, out of 3 female violinists' concerts that I attended this past year, 2 (A-S Mutter and Rachel Barton) wore off shoulder dresses - actually Rachel Barton's dress had 1 strap. Midori didn't, but I suspect she wouldn't be able to hold a strapless gown up anyway (she's so very thin). The strapless parts don't bother me, but I thought Mutter's dress was just a tad too glittery; I was almost blinded.

Oliveira and Yo-Yo Ma impressed me the most by their stage presence. They just seemed such nice, easy-going people, very gracious to their partners on stage, very appreciative of the audience, and overall, seemed to have thoroughly enjoyed playing. I like that.


[This message has been edited by lagomorphs (edited 05-10-2000).]

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"Too much body movement" is really bad. I would simply get out of the recital hall seeing the violinist doing that distracting movement on stage. Menuhin and Rosand are well displined. Perlman is acceptable. I don't want to point out those devils dancing on the stage while playing the violin.

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I watched a video of one of the big guys yesterday and during his tacets he tugged at his coat, picked lint, checked his hair, took his glasses off ... I kepot thinking how much I loved to hear this guy play, but how he was communicating to me that he couldn't care less about anything but himself. The music was not important unless he was playing. He did it during several tacets.

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Yes, what happened all these distinguished players who play with minimum fuss? I really miss the great dignity of older generation players. Just watching Kreisler (I have a 20 second silent film of him), Heifetz, Milstein, Szeryng, Ricci, Gitlis and Piatigorsky gives me such a relief. Elman was described as "showy" player who moved around a lot, but in the film I saw, he looked pretty tame and quiet compared to today's performer.

The conductors are the same way. Conductors like Toscanini, Monteux, Reiner and Szell, among others (Richard Strauss and Felix Weingartner are extreme cases of "undemonstrative" conductors) could achieve incredible effects by subtle gestures, whereas many conductors today dance and move around as if they are slaying a dragon! And even then, they don't say much, musically.

Among women violinists, I like the late Johanna Martzy the best, lookwise and playing-wise. I saw several performing pictures her and she looked and of course, sounded beautiful. She really had a "class."

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If an artist (that is a REAL artist) stands out in a crowd, or gets the whole audience into their performance, it should be because of their musical ability.

Not only technical, but interpretly as well. The last thing the audience should be thinking about at a concert is what Perlman is wearing. Or how great asethtically Bell looks that night.

The point is, performers (as well as audiences) should start paying more attention to the MUSIC than the outfits they plan to wear.

Just my opinion

Diana smile.gif

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