VC VOX POP | “What Are Your Pre-Concert Rituals?” [Q&A]

The Violin Channel recently caught up with 30+ of the world’s top string players to find out …


What are your pre-concert rituals?

The Violin Channel recently caught up with 30+ of the world’s top string players to find out …

Russian-born Violinist, Dmitry Sitkovetsky:

“I make sure that I have enough time to play through the piece I am about to perform slowly … and I try not to talk too much before going on stage … silence is very precious and important for what I am about to do” 

American Violinist, Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg:

“I try to take a little nap … shower … coffee … then play through the same warm up exercises I’ve done for years … the very last thing I do before walking onstage is put my heels on”

British Violinist, Chloe Hanslip:

“I really enjoy the process of getting ready and into the right headspace for a concert … I will put on make-up, dress and heels, warm up by going through some passages slowly … have some chocolate … and last but not least, do a few jumps just before walking out on stage”

Ariel Quartet Violinist, Gershon Gerchikov:

“Walking in circles and washing hands frequently enough to qualify for a OCD diagnosis”

Korean-American Violinist and New England Conservatory faculty member, Soovin Kim:

Coffee … and possibly chocolate”

Colburn School of Music Violin Professor and Co-Director of String Chamber Music, Martin Beaver:

“I like a good meal, a nap and a rehearsal or some quiet warming up backstage … however, Mother Nature and the airlines sometimes manage to disrupt this routine”

VC Artist Dover Quartet Violist, Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt:

“I always need to have a satiated stomach before going on stage, so I make sure to have eaten recently … other than that, I don’t have rituals, because to me it places too much pressure on circumstances being the same – which they can’t always be”

German-Japanese Concert Violinist, Arabella Steinbacher:

“Meditation … and eating lots of power food”

Kronberg Academy Pedagogue & Violinist, Mihaela Martin:

“For me, I don’t take long naps (maximum 30 minutes) … I don’t socialize too much … and I warm up well – but try not to play too much in the afternoon”

American Violinist, Stephanie Chase:

“For an evening concert, I have a late and fairly substantial lunch … whenever possible, I will take a nap before the concert and will watch something very distracting on tv while I get dressed …. usually, I will eat some yogurt and a banana while I am getting ready … at the hall, I warm up for about 20 minutes before I play – and I avoid speaking to people”

VC Artist Violinist, Ray Chen:

“Front zipper fly – check … then countdown for the door: 5…4…3…2…1… then I  whip out the finger pistol PEW PEW PEW!”

VC Artist Violinist, Stefan Jackiw:

“I eat a large, late lunch, followed by a nap … I like to arrive at the concert hall an hour before I’m set to go on … that hour backstage is a kind of panicked fever dream, but I try to do a lot of calm, slow playing, and some diaphragmatic breathing … but I often end up surfing the Internet on my phone and texting for most of the time”

VC Artist Violinist, Paul Huang:

“Ironing my own concert shirt has been something that calms me down before a concert … I make sure my stomach is not empty and that I’ve taken a nice long shower before heading to the hall … I like to make sure my violin is always clean … and I occasionally play., Jenga with colleagues backstage”

VC Artist Cellist, Kian Soltani: 

“Don’t have any specifics … just get a good afternoon sleep … and practice till the very last second

Russian-American Violin Soloist, Philippe Quint:

“1. … I turn off my phone one hour before the show so I can be alone and concentrate on the piece … and 2. the complete opposite … I try to go out and be around people and not think about the concert until it’s time to go on stage”

Canadian Violin Soloist, Lara St John:

“I shower on the day of concerts with a left hand rubber glove on so as to not soften calluses on my fingers”

Dutch Violinist, Noa Wildschut:

“I often play the piece I’m going to perform in a slow tempo … I take time to relax and try to seek some distractions … I also like to put on my concert dress quite early as it somehow makes me more focused”

VC Artist Violinist, Benjamin Beilman:

“Sleep … and coffee”

VC Young Artist Violinist, Timothy Chooi:

“If the concert is at night, I would take a walk or meet with people in the morning … in the afternoon, I would reserve 30 minutes for a nap, shower and play through the entire repertoire at half tempo … then I would head to the hall 1 hour before and get settled”

VC Young Artist Violinist, Marc Bouchkov:

“I don’t really have a routine … but if possible, I try to sleep for a bit”

VC Young Artist Violist, Timothy Ridout: 

“I try to have a nap … eat something light … drink a lot of water … and play some scales!

Australian Funster, TwoSet Violinist, Brett ‘Bang’ Yang

“I usually tune … then realize there’s no point”

Violin Virtuoso & Fashion Model Filip Pogady:

“I don’t like practicing much on the day of the concert … warming up half an hour before, for me, is plenty … that way I have enough energy to give it my all on stage … a nap before the concert is always great too”

VC Rising Star Violinist, Kevin Miura:

“I always have bananas, protein bars and green tea before performances … and, I always eat 2 Altoids mints – which I keep in my case”

VC Rising Star Violinist, Yesong Sophie Lee:

“I have a series of rituals which I keep secret – as I’m a superstitious person … but I can tell you … I drink lots of water, try to eat something … and like to warm up for at least an hour and a half before going on stage”

VC Young Artist Cellist, Aurélien Pascal:

“I usually focus on my breathing whilst doing some basic warm up exercises on my cello … I usually eat a small banana or a sugar treat in my dressing room and I always wash my hands with cold water just before going on stage”

VC Artist Violinist, Jennifer Pike:

“Sleep … fresh air … bananas … and a good warm-up!”