Cello Chair & Stage Fright
Tim, thank you for the tip about the "new Directions in Cello Playing"
book. This is without a doubt one of the most important books written
about the physical aspects of cello playing. The book is easily obtained
by mailing a check for $24.95 plus $4.00 shipping and handling to "bynot"
at PO Box 66760, Los Angeles, CA 90066.
In the "New Directions" book there is a lot of discussion about how to
sit and the need for a proper chair. The WENGER Co. manufactures a chair
for cellist called a "Cello Chair" that incorporates a forward slanted
seat. The current cost of this chair including shipping to your door and
tax is around $180.00. The chair comes in assorted colors and finishes.
More information can be obtained by calling WENGER at 1-800-733-0393,
ext 295 and speaking with Robin Pearson.
Another excellent book directly related to performance anxiety is "Stage
Fright" by Kato Havas, 1973, Bosworth & Co. Ltd., 14/18 Heddon Street,
Regent Street, London, W1R8DP. The examples in the book are directed
toward the violin but easily extended to the cello. I obtained this
book, several years age, through SHAR.
I couldn't agree more with you that continuing to THINK during one's
performance is extremely important; however, in most cases we do think,
but about the wrong things. For example: "oh my god I'll never make this
shift", or "is this really the place where I come in?". What I believe
needs to happen is to give the left side of the brain some activity to
keep it busy so negative thoughts are kept at bay. I like your idea for
transferring the thinking to the more secure right or left arm/hand
motion. Two ideas I have used to keep the left brain busy are: to count
the beats and their subdivisions or to think the note names as I perform
problem passages. Both of these left brain activities require practice
before the performance but can occupy the mind and prevent negative
thoughts (shots of adrenaline) from creeping in during the performance.
Several other things that can help stave off performance anxiety are:
Practice the RESTs in the music. Rests are often overlooked when
practicing our own part especially when they exceed more than just a few
If you use recordings to help learn the music, don't listen to
the cello (your) part but concentrate on the other part(s). One can know
their own part well but have only a vague idea of the other part(s) and
how these parts all relate. This is especially important to make one
feel secure with entrances after RESTs.
Always arrive early and get acclimated to where you will be performing.
Always tune before you go on stage. Since this is the first
thing you do before the audience, one can often be so tense that correct
tuning is impossible. If you are playing with other instruments make
sure you are all "in tune" before the audience arrives.