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Login Forums Beyond Practicing Forum Combatting Numb, Shaky, and Cold Hands Reply To: Combatting Numb, Shaky, and Cold Hands

  • Noa Kageyama

    April 19, 2018 at 12:31 pm

    Hi Steve,

    It sounds like you’ve done really great work with this student. And I wish there were a “cure” for this sort of shaky/cold hands, but I don’t know that there is per se.

    I think the key is to a) get more and more confident with your ability to manage the symptoms well enough that you can still play pretty darn well and b) get better at staying focused during the performance no matter what. Instead of allowing one’s thoughts to drift to worries about the symptoms and the consequences they may have on one’s playing both before and during the performance, which not only makes anxiety (physically and mentally) worse, but takes up a lot of our brainpower.

    Have you had her work on “singing brain” or the micro-improvisation strategy (the idea is to focus on offering subtle new nuances to one’s playing, spontaneously, while playing – more about this here and here)? Focusing more in this last week on challenging herself to stay relentlessly focused on the sound she wants to produce, and shaping each phrase, etc. alongside what she’s already doing with breathing, releasing muscle tension, etc. will help prepare her when her brain wants to focus instead on worrying physical symptoms.

    The other thing that can help, even if she can’t replicate the physical issues, is to practice performing her piece in front of others daily – where it’s not about getting used to the situation, so much as practicing exactly what she’s going to think about while waiting offstage, while walking onstage, while getting ready to play the first note, and all throughout her performance. So that she has a clear, well-rehearsed mental script as well as the physical script that is probably already well-ingrained.
    Percussionist Rob Knopper famously did 42 mock auditions before winning his met audition – one per day for 6 straight weeks. That’s on the high end (by quite a bit!), but having that many opportunities to practice little aspects of one’s gameplan in performance-like situations can be pretty invaluable.


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