The Violin Channel recently caught up with British violinist Chloë Hanslip.
In a VC-exclusive guest blog, the international virtuoso shares her thoughts on the life lessons you can only learn whilst performing on stage:
”When I was asked to write this article on life lessons that can be learnt on stage so many different ideas came to me.
Listening first came to mind – in this increasingly noisy world listening is a skill that I feel we are losing.
Then came responding and interacting – again in a society that relies so much on technology, simple dialogue and communication is being lost.
All of these are essential when performing – music making is, after all, a conversation.
Being prepared for any eventuality (strings breaking, bridges slipping off the violin!) and dealing with it calmly were also considered.
Ultimately though, I landed on looking and acting confident, even when you don’t feel it, and the facets of that that we explore as musicians when we are on stage.
Playing works that have been written by someone else, and performing them for an audience, is a huge responsibility that can make us vulnerable right from the very first note. Am I performing it the way the composer imagined it to be played? Am I taking the audience on a true journey? Both of these things have been known to go through my mind when I am working on pieces at home and sometimes, when I am on stage.
However, no-one should ever know that these thoughts are going through our heads – we need to look just confident enough, relaxed and totally in control, even if we might not feel it!
An extension to those questions above is also whether you are prepared to bare your soul and your feelings whilst performing. What do we want to present as musicians? What is our motivation? We are, essentially, opening up and showing our truest emotions to a group of people we do not know – something which, as human beings, is not necessarily an automatic thing to do.
So, how do we overcome those thoughts and what processes do we use to mitigate them?
Practice and knowing a piece inside out is crucial and, although getting ready on a concert day is a hugely personal thing, for me, that time, be it getting some fresh air, eating some chocolate or jumping up and down to disperse any extra energy, is almost the most important to clear my head so I can go out and truly enjoy a performance.
Making music is a wonderful mixture of joy, sadness, strength, weakness and many other things – no one performance will be the same (nor should it be!) and so it is with life as well, but it should all be cherished.