How To Relax While Playing

Discussion in 'Orchestral Technique [DB]' started by Natmain, Dec 12, 2012.


  1. Natmain

    Natmain

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    I have found that I have a problem with being really tense while playing a concerto or a difficult passage. This leads to me messing up or feeling discomfort while playing. Does anyone have any tips of tricks to relaxing while playing?
     
  2. Andrew McGregor

    Andrew McGregor

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  3. Jazz Ad

    Jazz Ad Mi la ré sol Gold Supporting Member

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    Yes, breathe deeply. adjust it to the length of full notes.
    As an exercice, try to play without your thumb on the back of the neck. It helps to realize that very little pressure is needed to produce a note.
    Turn the amp very loud and pluck lightly.
     
  4. irbassist

    irbassist

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    I've always thought this was a funny way to put it.
     
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  6. irbassist

    irbassist

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    I've always thought this was a funny way to put it.
     
  7. Andrew McGregor

    Andrew McGregor

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    Thing is, if you unconsciously hold your breath, you will breathe eventually, but you tense up while doing it. So 'remember to breathe' is a good way to learn the trick.
     
  8. bejoyous

    bejoyous

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    My old teacher would poke me in the shoulder and yell, "RELAX! or I'll kill you!" (but in a well-intensioned and kind manner :eyebrow: )
     
  9. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

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    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    The trick is to make it "not difficult". Practice the parts that are giving you the most difficulty, work out of tempo to make decisions about fingering, shifting, bow movement. Start slowly with the nome, and pay particular attention to your breathing, where you might be holding tension. when you find that, keep "playing" but let go of the music, just keep the general direction and rhythm going and regulate your breathing and work on releasing the tension.
    If you have the fingering, shifts and bow well under hand, then the mental anxiety about its "difficulty" will dissipate.
     
  10. jag872002

    jag872002

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    Breathe, Breathe in the air.
     
  11. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member

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    This is basically what I learned to do. It really isn't much more than starting from relaxed and noticing when you are starting to tense up. Do it again slower and quieter while focus on relaxation. The passage (or whatever you're working on) is no longer your primary focus for a bit.
     
  12. David Potts

    David Potts

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    Hi, I've lifted this from an old post (see blacksheep 05-03-2008). It calms me down and encourages breathing naturally, not "swimming under water".

    I believe there was a violin teacher, the Abbe Son File, a long time ago. My version of what he advocated is as follows –

    In the normal bow hold place, (with no technique) hold the bow stick right out on your fingertips (don’t hang your fingers over the stick onto the frog). With slack relaxed fingers, wrist, arm and shoulder hang the bow down lightly onto a string (say D or A) and draw it as slowly as you can sideways, just making a faint sound that is even. There can be a little bit of “Morse Code” at first until you get used to this. Breathe normally (I used to hold my breathe then gasp like I’d been swimming under water!!). With a little bit of practice you can make one bow stroke last 45 seconds or more (there was a violinint who claimed 2 1/2 minutes per bow?).

    Do this for several up and down bows on different strings before dropping back into your normal bow hold. You’ll find that you can’t bow as slowly or softly but you can be very relaxed as you draw a smooth endless-quality sound with long bows.

    I do this to relax before starting my practice. It sort of “tunes me in.” I also use it to have “slow bow races” with my young students – the longest time wins !!

    Perhaps look too at my comments in the recent BOW ARM WEIGHT (goodgig)

    Cheers…..

    DP
     
  13. Phil Rowan

    Phil Rowan

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    Yeah David, I love slow bows by the bridge (the slower the better). The string tension about an inch up from the bridge is so high it means the only way to draw the bow there and produce a sound is by not pressing at all and being totally relaxed. If the player comes to a point where the bow/tone stops (hiccup) it means they've tensed and pressed down on the string. And on bow changes for this (and for any other legato stuff) it's all about lightening up big time when getting close to the tip or frog. It's also amazing, nce the player gets the hang of it, what a huge sound can be made with long slow bows by the bridge and how little effort it takes to get that huge sound.

    +1 to what Ed and John said. Slowing down and playing softly allows the player to check in on what the issues are, isolate them and take each issue and practice something that helps solve it.
     
  14. MartinBorgen

    MartinBorgen

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    I try to play things very quietly, putting as little effort as I can, and ignoring the musical expressions. Suddenly everything is easier, and I go from there adding the volume, dynamics and musicality.
     
  15. tappingtrance

    tappingtrance Cooke Harvey Gold Supporting Member

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    George Vance always suggested, "play the difficult passage like you don't care " and for what it is worth it takes all the tension away and allows you to apply your best to the passage.
     
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  16. kreider204

    kreider204

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    But don't be afraid to care ...

    (Sorry, had to go there.)
     
  17. ILIA

    ILIA

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    He also suggested Correli strings.
     
  18. WCHIII

    WCHIII

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    Cervasa..... Mucho cervasa !!!!!!
     
  19. Adam Attard

    Adam Attard

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    +1, señor.
    (Es cerveza)
     
  20. mjt0229

    mjt0229

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    I recently discovered that I was clenching my jaw while concentrating on hard many things at once - even during etudes. The problem was that I was focusing on intonation, tone, my bow arm, and keeping my left hand quiet. It's a lot to think about even for slow passages or simple etudes.

    The solution I came up with was based on an exercise I sometimes do when I'm practicing running and sprinting. I started practicing passages with my jaw loose and my mouth open. It looks (even more) ridiculous, but it does help. I don't often have to resort to this tactic, but whenever I catch myself clenching my teeth, I stop what I'm doing and begin the "open mouth" drill.

    A thing to watch out for is shifting tension around, too. You don't want to relax your jaw (say) and put that tension directly into your shoulders or your grip.
     
  21. jdepriest

    jdepriest

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