Stage fright can seriously affect players and can put a stop to a student or professional career. More and more, people tend to resort to drugs but is this the only option? Do they address the causes of stage fright?
There is a book, Stage fright by Kató Havas, that is focused on this aspect, this particular problem that many players experience, with reference to violin and viola.
Published in 1973, is based on her experience of the application, for about fifteen years (then), of the New Approach in teaching.
By teaching the New Approach, Kato Havas realised that the elimination of physical tensions made playing easier and this in turn reduced the emotional tension, eliminated stage fright, the nerves connected with performing for an audience.
What's written in Kató Havas books can be applied to both violin and viola playing.
If you have doubts on how to resolve various problems and so far you haven't found answers, I warmly recommend them to you!
Playing an instrument is not just a matter of moving the fingers, it has to do with character, the essence of the person. Stage fright can come from other serious situations of life that cause the player to lose his/her confidence in his ability to control situations, therefore the player loses confidence in his ability to control the movements necessary to playing. There are many who play very well, despite a lot of tensions, pain and aches and nerves. What a price to pay! Besides this, if one relies only on fingers' mechanical movement, everything may go to pieces when external factors, having nothing to do with music, interfere and a shake a person's confidence. I'm very grateful to Kato Havas for what she taught me and for the help she gave me to get to play with real joy.
Kató Havas and I when the Italian version
of the book was published
This book too received a very positive comment from Yehudi Menuhin.
“Dear Kató Havas, I would like to write you a second fan letter, as I believe I have already done so some years ago, to congratulate you on your book "Stage fright". It is the most realistic and practical approach imaginable. It stresses the real reasons and not the false ones... a book that should be worth its weight in gold to every student and many a performer.”
The book examines in detail the causes of all the fears most of players have, giving practical solutions to them. These are the chapters, for each fear causes and cures are explained.
I) A GENERAL SURVEY
1.THE SHAME ATTACHED TO STAGE FRIGHT
a) What is anxiety?
II) THE HUNGARIAN GYPSY VIOLINIST
III) THE PHYSICAL ASPECTS
1.THE FEAR OF DROPPING THE VIOLIN
2.THE FEAR OF THE TREMBLING BOWING ARM
a) The strokes
3.THE FEAR OF BEING OUT OF TUNE
a) The fourth finger
4.THE FEAR OF HIGH POSITIONS AND SHIFTS
a) The high positions
IV) THE MENTAL ASPECTS OF STAGE FRIGHT
1.THE FEAR OF NOT BEING LOUD ENOUGH
2.THE FEAR OF NOT BEING FAST ENOUGH
3.THE FEAR OF MEMORY LAPSE
4.THE POWER OF WORDS
3.THE POWER OF IMAGINATION
V) THE SOCIAL ASPECTS
1.THE FEAR OF NOT BEING GOOD ENOUGH
1.THE ART OF PRACTISING
2.SUGGESTIONS FOR EXAMINATIONS, AUDITIONS, COMPETITIONS, PERFORMANCES
3.THE SALIENT POINTS IN PRACTISING
You may want to read more books by Kató Havas, so here they are:
A new approach to violin playing
The first book published. It talks about playing using the natural, fundamental balances of the body, which prevent and eliminate physical tensions, tendonitis, stage fright
The 12 lesson course in A New Approach to violin playing
The New Approach organised in 12 lessons, with practical exercises and pieces to play as a pupil-teacher duo. For beginners and advanced players as well
The violin and I
Kató Havas' autobiography, with the story of how the New Approach came to life and the correspondence, which went on for years, among readers on The Strad magazine
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