Pierre-Arnaud Dablemont

Who or what inspired you to take up the piano, and make it your career?

What an embarrassing question for me! I could say that I immediately fell in love with the instrument, that it was inside me and so on, but that would be a big lie. The truth is I can’t remember how I came up with the idea to learn how to play the piano. I remember I wanted to take a ballet class, but it didn’t work out and I never had my ballet lessons. Next thing I know: I’m playing the piano. But one thing is absolutely sure: my parents didn’t force me. They had no musical background and were pretty scared by my aspirations to be a professional musician. Concerning my career choice, I can’t remember whether someone or something specifically influenced me; I think it grew in me and finally became obvious in my teens. I started studying mathematics alongside my studies at the conservatory; finally I stood up for myself and came out of the closet as a full-time music student!

Who or what were the most important influences on your playing?

My teachers Véronique Menuet-Stibbe and František Maxián. They are very different pianists and both brought me what I needed at the time I met them. I only recently discovered how much I owe them for the pianist I am now and how deeply they influenced me. Of course, some world-class famous pianists played an important role in my development as well, like Schnabel, Michelangeli, Gould, Pollini or Pogorelich, among others.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

Being happy with what I do and finding out who I really am as a pianist. It takes time to find your repertoire, to understand who are the composers you’re able to understand and play well, and who are those you like but shouldn’t play. It takes time to get what’s important for you in music, which direction you want to give to your work. And I have the feeling that giving yourself space to think is a real challenge in today’s music business.

Which performances/recordings are you most proud of?

Well, my first album was released 3 months ago and I’m very proud of this achievement. It was a difficult project and I’m happy I managed it from the beginning to the end. It was very important for me to understand the whole process and I gained a immensely valuable insight. I’m also very proud I can offer it for free.

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in?

Not really. As long as there is a good piano, the basics of a concert hall and an attentive audience, I’m happy with the venue.

Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to?

Of course I love performing Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit and Janáček’s On an Overgrown Path as well as In the Mists, and that’s why they are part of my debut album. I have also a special thing for performing Beethoven and contemporary music: both feature in my next recording projects. I don’t listen to a lot of piano music (I used to) but in my current playlist, you’ll find Brahms’ Violin Concerto (C. Ferras/ H. von Karajan), Brad Mehldau’s Elegiac Circle, Dvořák’s ‘cello and piano concerti (Dupré/Barenboim – Richter/Kleiber), Beethoven’s Symphonies (Fürtwangler) or Bach’s Goldberg Variations (Gould – 1981).

Who are your favourite musicians?

Those who make me think, those who make me want to play the piano.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

Performing in the dark, with just one little reading lamp for me to see the keyboard. This was a difficult Messiaen/Berio/Takemitsu program: the experience was amazing both for the audience and me. I’d like to do it more often, maybe with a more standard repertoire. I think it really enhanced the performance and was really interesting, musically speaking.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?

Never take anything for granted. Find your own truth and stand up for it. And remember that piano playing can’t only be based on goodwill, feelings, intuitions or piano practice. It is much more than that.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m working on my next recording dedicated to Beethoven’s Sonatas op. 27, 28, 109, 110 and 111, so I’m diving into his piano works, especially the Sonatas and Concerti, and it’s a real pleasure to go back to this music I haven’t played for a long time. And alongside this work on Beethoven, I’m learning Bach’s Partitas, quite new repertoire for me, and planning several multimedia projects for next year.

Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?

I hope I’ll keep the same attitude towards life and music, the same amount of insane musical ideas, the same passion for my instrument, with a little more free time and easiness to realize my projects.

What is your most treasured possession?

I don’t own much things, I don’t really connect with objects. My piano is certainly the best answer I can provide here.

 

Pierre-Arnaud Dablemont has built a reputation as a unique recitalist with an unusually broad repertoire. His multifaceted musical personality and insatiable curiosity have led him to exciting new directions, going beyond the beaten paths of the usual conformist thinking and giving him a particular view on the works he interprets.

His album Introducing Pierre-Arnaud Dablemont, released in July 2012 is Dablemont’s first solo recording and includes works by Janácek and Ravel, two composers who have a particular resonance with Pierre-Arnaud Dablemont and reflect his path in the music world.

In 2013, Dablemont will release two new albums featuring six piano sonatas by Beethoven op. 27 n°1 & 2 “Moonlight”, op. 28 “Pastorale”, op. 109, op. 110, op. 111. Alongside these two recordings, the pianist will issue an essay on piano and interpretation. In the course of 2013, he will also appear in a documentary film about his work and point of views and release video recordings of several recitals.

Actively involved in the expansion and promotion of contemporary piano repertoire, Dablemont has premiered new works by composers Pavel Trojan, Petr Pokorný, Edith Canat de Chizy. In 2013, he will perform and record two new short pieces by British composer Steven Berryman: …brightly illuminated, vividly seen and Can it be such raptures meet decay?.

Born near Paris, he grew up in a non-musical family. Dablemont received his first piano lessons at age 8. Showing a talent for music, he quickly became more serious about piano and began his education under Véronique Menuet-Stibbe. He later studied with the eminent pedagogue and pianist František Maxián at the Prague Conservatory, who particularly influenced his playing.

Pierre-Arnaud Dablemont keeps a widely-read blog. There he writes about his concerts, practicing as well as he publishes detailled essays on music or analysis of works.

www.pierre-arnaud-dablemont.com

This delightful interactive art/music project was created by Newcastle artist Anton Hecht. A small grand piano was set up in the busy Haymarket bus station in Newcastle, and commuters and passers by were invited to join the pianist at the piano to play a few notes of Beethoven’s iconic Piano Sonata Op 27, no. 2 , the ‘Moonlight’.

Filmed over the course of an entire day, Anton edited each contribution together to create an almost seamless performance in a film which is as much about the daily life of the bus station and the people who pass through it as it is about the music. The end result is a rather special communal playing experience. Anton has worked on a companion project, ‘Come Play Satie With Me’, in which the public engage in the process of collectively playing one of Eric Satie’s Gnossienne on a Steinway in the main auditorium at St. David’s Hall, Cardiff. Pianist Andy Jackson accompanies and guides, and like the Bus Station Beethoven, the resulting film is rather wonderful. Look at the concentrated expressions on the faces of the people who join Andy at the piano.
Watch both video clips here:

‘Bus Station Sonata’

;

Come Play Satie With Me

Masterchef judges Monica Galetti, Michel Roux Jr and Greg Wallace

People who know me well – and who have eaten at my dinner table – probably feel it was inevitable that I would eventually combine my twin passions of food and pianism in a blog post.

This time last year I was in the midst of final preparations for my ATCL Performance Diploma. I was also hooked on Masterchef the Professionals, a BBC TV competition for working chefs. This time this year I am once again immersed in Diploma preparations (for the higher LTCL), and nightly glued to Masterchef the Professionals.

So how can a cookery tv game show (which is how Masterchef began nearly 20 years ago) provide inspiration to the pianist, and musician in general?

The programme features some very talented individuals. Many of the dishes they submit to the highly discriminating judges are amazing: creative, imaginative and beautifully prepared. In order to progress through the contest, the participants must complete a variety of tests, including skills tests which examine things like the ability to joint a bird correctly, prepare a lobster or make Hollandaise sauce (three ways). They must also prepare a classic dish, set by Michael Roux Jr, as well as cooking and serving a two-course meal for food critics. As the competition progresses, the tasks become more challenging.

The more I watched Masterchef, and the further the competition proceeded towards its exciting denouement, the more it became apparent to me that the chefs who consistently came out top (and the one who eventually won the competition, Ash Mair), all had their “skills sets” perfected. At the foundation of everything they cooked was a solid understanding of technique, ingredients, flavour combinations, and time-management, combined with creative flair and imagination. And as I watched, it occurred to me that musicians, especially those preparing for concerts, competitions, festivals or exams, also need to have secure “skills sets” (i.e. technique).

Technique is at the foundation of everything we do as pianists (and this is true for anyone who works in a profession/craft requiring skill and dexterity – for example, sportspeople, surgeons, sculptors, plumbers). Piano technique is not just finger dexterity but – just as for a chef – an aggregate of many skills. It is an understanding of how movement can influence the way we play the piano, the sounds we make, our ability to move rapidly around the keyboard. It is “a way of using your body to play the piano” (Maria Joao Pires). I see technique as the solid architectural framework on which we hang our creativity, artistic and interpretative vision, our musicality, and our communication with the listener. And technique must never just be about acquiring “finger technique”; we should always practice in a musical way – because practically any technical flaw can be detected in the music.

Sure, you come across people who play the piano well, but maybe you wonder, when you hear them play, why their fortes are too strident, or their tonal control lacks true cantabile sound. Both aspects require an ability to understand how we use the body to create particular sounds and effects on the keyboard. So, like the chefs on Masterchef the Professionals, we must bring together our skill set and our musicality to enable us to play better.

Another aspect which was very obvious from Masterchef was that all the finalists were highly organised time managers. They knew how long their dishes would take to prepare and they were expert at multi-tasking. They also had a well-developed understanding of how the different components of a dish should come together to create a whole meal. In the same way, the skilled musician understands how to construct a programme that will delight, excite and surprise the listener. The ingredients of a good programme should pique the listener’s appetite well before the soloist arrives on stage (when I select concerts to review, I largely base my choices on interesting repertoire and programming rather than performer). A concert pianist friend of mine once told me that his teacher (Phyllis Sellick) described a programme featuring music by the same composer as “a list!”, but “seasoning” your programme well can make a concert focusing on a single composer a fascinating and engaging experience – for listener and performer.

Let me backtrack a little in the process and explain how Masterchef influenced my Diploma preparations in the run up to the exam last December:

Be well-prepared: allowing oneself enough time to fully prepare each piece. Last-minute preparations are never a good idea, whatever level of exam you are taking. Being well-prepared can also counteract nerves on the day.

Time-management: make sure your programme runs to the correct timings as given in the exam regulations. At Diploma level, you will be marked down if your programme is too short, or over-runs. Time your pieces individually as well as your entire programme. And think about the silences between the pieces too: some pieces hang together naturally (I played a Bach Toccata and Debussy’s Sarabande from ‘Pour le Piano’ virtually back-to-back in my Diploma recital, to demonstrate the connections between the pieces, but a longer pause between the Schubert E flat Impromptu and Liszt Sonetto 123 was necessary, in part to allow me to catch my breath!)

Plan your menu. Your programme is your menu: plan it wisely. In my experience, as a regular concert-goer and occasional performer, the best programmes are those which offer different levels of energy, perhaps building to the climax of a big virtuosic piece, or piano sonata at the midway point. If the programme is very weighty, remember that the audience needs a break too.

Presentation: at Diploma level you are marked on your presentation skills and stagecraft, and your attire and manner must be professional. Dress appropriately for an afternoon or early evening recital, and practice playing in your concert clothes ahead of the actual date. (I had trouble with my shoes, for example, as I cannot pedal in high heels! And make sure your page turner is correctly attired too: mine wore plain black shirt and trousers).

Stay focussed: nerves can get the better of you but if you are well-prepared you should have no reason to feel nervous (beyond the “positive nerves” of looking forward to presenting your programme to an audience/examiner).

A couple of other tips for practising have come up as I’ve watched this year’s Masterchef The Professionals contest:

Last year, I played the Schubert E flat Impromptu to a pianist friend, twice, as part of my preparations. He told me I was using the pedal too much and ordered me to practice the piece without the pedal (except in the trio). At first, I found this a difficult and unpleasant experience, not least because the piece sounded dreadful without pedal on my piano. After a while, however, I began to notice new details about the music, which had hitherto been hidden by my rather over-enthusiastic foot. Likewise, on Masterchef last year, one of the finalists made a ‘Deconstructed Chicken and Mushroom Pie’. He took all the components of a classic chicken pie, stripped them down and presented them in an elegant and witty way. When I made it myself, I realised why my friend had suggested practising the Schubert without pedal: when I went back to play the piece for my teacher, with one-eighth pedal, the result was more refined, musical and had far greater clarity.

So, it’s worth taking the trouble to strip the music back to its components: this does not necessarily mean doing an exhaustive analysis of the score, but being aware of all the little details that make up the whole. Practising sans pedal allows you to hear better what is going on in the music – maybe some interior voices or melodic lines were not obvious before? Understand what makes the whole and try to bring all the individual parts together to make a coherent and elegant finished version.

I’ve been working on my LTCL repertoire for nearly a year now, and soon it will be “decision time” as to when I take the exam (spring or summer 2013). The experience of the previous Diploma – and the inspiration from Masterchef! – means I feel far better prepared this time around. I’ve spent a lot of time fine-tuning aspects of technique including pedaling (specifically for Mozart A minor Rondo, K511, which requires very little, and very sensitive pedaling), and building stamina to enable me to play a brash and exuberant Rachmaninov Étude-Tableau (op 33, in E flat). I’ve done a lot of “tasting” – listening around my repertoire to gain inspiration from recordings, other works by the same composers, live performances etc. My ‘menu’ is nearly ready to be run by friends and colleagues who will sample it ahead of the exam:

Bach – Concerto in D minor after Marcello, BWV 974

Takemitsu – Rain Tree Sketch II

Mozart – Rondo in A minor, K511

Liszt – Sonetto 104 del Petrarca

Rachmaninov – Two Etudes-Tableaux, Op. 33 – No. 7 in E flat & No. 8 in G minor

Concert grand piano on the stage at London’s Wigmore Hall (picture source The Guardian)

This post was prompted by this question from a friend: “How has reviewing piano concerts influenced your own playing?”.

In the 18 months I’ve been reviewing for Bachtrack, I’ve been to many excellent solo piano and chamber recitals, given by top international artists, and lesser-known, or up-and-coming artists too, at venues large and small. Reviewing has been a way of indulging my passion for piano music, while also being allowed to write about it, and, I hope, share my passion with others. When I select concerts to review, I tend to make choices largely based on repertoire rather than performer, though this year I have made one or two deliberate choices to hear certain performers, out of curiosity, namely Yuja Wang and Benjamin Grosvenor. I also wanted to hear again Marc-André Hamelin and Pierre-Laurent Aimard, and for the first time, Noriko Ogawa.

I often urge my students to go to concerts for “inspiration” (sadly, few of them take up my suggestion). There is something very special about live music, and seeing and hearing a professional musician at work can be illuminating and inspiring – and sometimes just jaw-droppingly extraordinary (in the case of Hamelin). You don’t experience that same excitement from hearing music, however expertly played, on disc, as you do in the concert hall. You can listen to a disc any number of times, but in the concert hall, it’s an entirely unique experience – for performer and audience. I’ve heard a couple of pianists in the same repertoire at different concerts, and after a pause of several years, and have been surprised, and excited, at the changes in the music. Not significant changes of interpretation, but small adjustments – a little more rubato here, some subtle shading or tenuto there – which shine a new light on the works or highlight different aspects. As a performer, it is these flashes of illumination and insight that make performing such an interesting and exciting experience, aside from the cultural gift of sharing music with others.

I couldn’t really claim that any particular concert or performer has directly informed my playing, but occasionally I’ve considered some of my repertoire in a new way after hearing it in concert. One is unlikely to pick up any nuggets of technique in the concert hall: you’re often too far away from the stage to see details, but listening attentively is helpful, particularly for pedalling. It’s amazing how many pro pianists don’t seem to know how to pedal properly, or who use the pedal as some kind of on-off switch to hide mistakes or inconsistencies of technique. I’ve been doing a lot of work on refining my pedal technique this year, specifically with regard to Mozart’s Rondo in A minor K511 (which requires very minimal pedal), so I have a heightened sensitivity about sloppy or inconsistent pedalling! Peter Donohoe, in his early spring concert at Queen Elizabeth Hall, gave a fantastic demonstration of how to pedal Debussy effectively in his performance of Estampes (read my review here). It was an enlightening and expert performance.

Similarly, hearing Noriko Ogawa play Toru Takemitsu’s evocative Rain Tree Sketch II, a piece dedicated to Olivier Messiaen, and full of Messiaenic echoes in its colourful tonalities and ‘flashes’, was very illuminating. I had just started looking at the piece when I went to hear Noriko in a lunchtime concert at the Wigmore featuring this piece and Debussy’s Études. To hear the work performed live by one of the composer’s compatriots, who clearly has a profound understanding of his work, was special enough, but the beauty and refinement of Noriko’s playing made this a truly spectacular five minutes of music for me. I went home to practise the piece with an excitement and enthusiasm, which has remained every time I open the score or indeed think about the work.

A really vibrant or emotionally powerful performance of a piece I am working on will often send me home to study the score in detail away from the piano, or may encourage me to try something new or different. I’ve stopped trying to copy what the pros do – the frustrated concert pianist within has long since been put to bed, and I now concentrate on trying to bring my own interpretation to the music – but a well-executed performance of some of my repertoire may force me to raise my game, always a good thing, especially when one has been working on the same repertoire for a long time.

I think the best aspect of reviewing is the exposure to a such great variety of music, and this is probably the most significant influence on my own playing. My reporter’s notebook, and the black Moleskine notebook I keep by the piano for practising notes, are full of lists of repertoire I’ve heard in concert and mean to learn one day. Here’s a small sample, in no particular order, with a note of where I heard the work:

Liszt – Bénediction de Dieu dans la solitude (Proms 2011, Marc-André Hamelin)

Liszt – Legende: St. François de Paule marchant sur les flots (Proms 2011 – Marc-André Hamelin)

Debussy – Les soirs illumine de l’ardeur du charbon (Proms 2012 – Pierre-Laurent Aimard)

Copland – Muted & Sensuous from Four Piano Blues (Peter Jablonski, QEH 2012)

Bach, trans. Liszt – Prelude & Fugue in a minor BWV 543 (Khatia Buniatishvili, Wigmore 2011)

Bartok – Dirges, no. 4 Andante Assai (Aimard, QEH 2011)

Messiaen – any of the Catalogue d’Oiseaux (Aimard, QEH 2011)

At his spring concert at QEH, Leif Ove Andsnes played one of Rachmaninov’s opus 33 Études-Tableaux for an encore (C major) and in an instant I was hooked (those slavic open fifths!). Sadly, I had some difficulties with tension in my left arm when I attempted to play this one, so I switched to the g minor. I am also learning the E flat Etude-Tableau from the same opus. Together, these pieces form the close of my LTCL programme. Thank you, Leif!

Rachael Young

Who or what inspired you to take up conducting, and make it your career?

As a cellist I was playing in orchestras right from the start and immediately loved the colours and drama of the orchestra. Then as I progressed and began to play more demanding works I fell completely in love with the orchestral repertoire.

Who or what were the most important influences on your conducting?

I love German conductors like Furtwangler, Karajan and also Carlos Kleiber. I went to the Jarvi Summer Academy in 2007 and saw Neeme Jarvi and his son Paavo conducting. Apart from their musical personas, I was greatly impressed by their technical command of the orchestra. They both have masterful conducting techniques that are able to ‘play’ the orchestra as if it were an instrument – which of course it is – a complex and wonderful instrument. They are both trained in a ‘Russian School’ of conducting – Maestro Neeme Jarvi studied with Rabinovich in St Petersburg in the room next to Ilya Musin’s class, and Paavo studied with Maestro Leonid Grin, a graduate of Moscow Conservatory, who studied with Leo Ginsberg and Kyrill Kondrashin. He then went on to be the Associate Conductor of The Moscow Philharmonic before defecting to to the West. After working with me at the masterclass and seeing me performing in the concerts, Paavo Jarvi kindly recommended me to Leonid Grin, with whom I began studying in 2008.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

Finding my way from a rather lovely but rather small town in NZ to Leonid Grin.

Which performances/compositions/recordings are you most proud of?

It was a great pleasure and privilege for me to perform with Viktoria Postnikova. We performed the Schnittke Concerto for Piano and String Orchestra together last year in London. For me she plays that work magnificently and she was the first to record the work with her husband, the legendary conductor Gennadi Rozhdestvensky. They were both friends of Schnittke’s and his wife, and it very much felt like a kind of meeting with the composer himself. Also, Leonid Grin knew him well, so he was able to give further insights about both the work and the composer.

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in?

It’s always a real pleasure to perform in spaces that allow the audience and the orchestra a certain intimacy, and in this sense the Royal Albert Hall is very interesting. But the acoustic of a venue is usually the most significant factor in creating something.

Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to?

Whatever I am working with/performing at that moment.

Who are your favourite musicians?

For me it depends on the repertoire, but I love artists such as Maria Callas, Jacqueline du Pré, and the Russian pianist Maria Yudina for me is extraordinary.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

When I was young my mother took me to hear the Borodin String Quartet playing Beethoven in what must have been its second incarnation, I think. It gave me an early experience of what was possible when you have a great composer being performed by wonderful artists.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?

To find every way to love what you do and transmit that.

What are you working on at the moment?

Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich.

Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?

Working in a challenging and creative environment

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

see above

Rachael Young makes her Cadogan Hall debut on 23 November 2012, conducting the Russian Virtuosi of Europe in a programme of music by Schnittke, Prokofiev, Shostakovich and Tchaikovsky.

Rachael Young began her conducting career in 2007, having been a professional cellist, first in her native New Zealand, and then in the UK. Rachael is trained in the Russian system of conducting, and for the last three years has been under the tutelage of renowned conducting teacher Maestro Leonid Grin – Paavo Jarvi’s former teacher and former assistant to Leonard Bernstein throughout the 1980s.

Rachael has worked with a number of ensembles, including the St Petersburg State Academic Symphony Orchestra, the London Soloists Chamber Orchestra, the South Bohemian Chamber Orchestra, the Kharkov Philharmonic Orchestra, the English Sinfonia and the Russian Virtuosi of Europe.

She has participated in a number of prestigious conducting masterclasses, including Neeme Jarvi’s Summer Academy in Estonia, the Celebidache Foundation Masterclass held in the Czech Republic, and ‘The London Masterclasses’ at The Royal Academy of Music, and classes with Jorma Panula.

Recent engagements include guest conducting the Kharkov Philharmonic Orchestra in the Ukraine in a programme of works by Haydn and Mozart, and conducting the English Sinfonia and Lara Melda at St John’s Smith Square, London in May 2011, and with Viktoria Postnikova in September 2011. For the 2012/2013 season Rachael is embarking on a series of concerts with the Russian Virtuosi of Europe at London’s Cadogan Hall.

Rachael began her musical studies at 13 and went on to take her B.Mus at Victoria University, Wellington. A scholarship from The Boston Conservatory, Massachusetts enabled her to pursue post graduate studies in America. In 1994 Rachael came to England and, with the help of a New Zealand Arts Council grant, studied ‘cello with William Pleeth (teacher of Jaqueline du Pré) and later Moray Welsh.

Rachael Young’s website

A guest post from Grace Miles, founder of artiden.com, a blog about the musician lifestyle. She helps pianists get the most out of music with psychology.

Remember the “spotlight”?

When all eyes are on you, every little action feels 100 times more obvious.

We all want more sparkle in our performances– and it comes with the right mix of confidence and nervous energy.

Being confident is easy.

So is performing comfortably.

You just need to make the right choices and behave the right way.

How People Really See You

Imagine giving a speech, making it up as you go, to a crowd.

How will you look?

There’s something I call the ‘glass wall’ effect.

In one study, people gave speeches (made up on the spot) and were asked to rate their own nervousness.

These ratings were compared with the audience’s ratings, and they found that the audience always thought the speaker was less nervous than they really were.

In other words, people looked more confident than they really felt.

Not many people notice how much you’re really shaking inside– that’s the glass wall effect.

People see you, but you’re separated by the glass wall and your emotions don’t come across as clearly as you might think.

This is consistent with tons of other studies–we think our feelings are more obvious than they really are.

(But don’t get carried away: your feelings aren’t invisible to everyone else– it’s a glass wall, remember.)

Of course, looking less nervous isn’t the same as looking confident and composed, and actually feeling that way.

The answer is so simple yet so powerful.

The Secret to Being Confident

The first step is knowing that people can’t see how nervous you really are.

When they told the speakers that they project more confidence than they actually feel, the speakers gave better speeches and felt more confident overall.

To be more confident, we just have to remind ourselves that people don’t see how nervous we really are.

Shy, clipped phrases may be taken as calm and controlled speech, and so on.

When this burden is gone, then we’re free to focus fully on whatever we’re doing.

But remember that you do want some nervous energy in you– this adds the spark and excitement that amazing performances thrive on.

Act it Out

You smile because you’re happy but you’re also happy because you smile.

Your actions change your feelings.

To let this hit home, let’s look at a study where two groups of people are watching the same cartoon.

The first group holds a pencil between their lips in a way that makes them frown while watching the show.

The other group holds the pencil between their teeth so the “smiling muscles” are activated while watching the show.

It turns out that the people who smiled actually found the show a lot funnier (and enjoyed it a lot more) than those who frowned.

So fix your posture and let yourself smile.

This sends signals to your brain: you’re ready and you’re not afraid to have fun.

People don’t expect to see a nervous trainwreck when they first see you, and they’re not going to think you’re nervous at all if you behave with confidence.

But how does confidence come naturally?

“Natural” Habits

It comes without thinking when you make it a habit.

Confidence just means faking it until you get it right. (Click here to tweet this)

The first few times you try this and remind yourself of the glass wall effect, it might feel like you’re forcing it. And you might be.

But that doesn’t change the fact that you’re on your way to forming a habit and you’ll reap the results when the time comes.

(Some people say that performing puts them in the state of flow, and who’s to argue with that?)

Personally, I’m not the most extroverted person, but I can work a crowd like anyone else.

The Confidence Kit

1. Remember the glass wall effect.

2. Fake it until it comes naturally.

3. Rock on.

The trick to performing is having the right mix of nervous energy and confidence. (Click here to tweet this)

The most technically sound performance falls flat when there’s no underlying hint of nervous energy.

So make sure you leave a comment letting me know how you plan to use these new insights. 🙂

And here’s where you come in: if you know anyone– absolutely anyone– who might benefit from this knowledge, just send them a quick email with a link to this post.

They’ll thank you.

Grace Miles blogs about the musician lifestyle at http://artiden.com/, designs good designs, and makes great music on the piano.