As I was teaching one student this week she did some “telegraphing” that needed to be stopped. When she got to a high note or two her body language told anyone watching, “This is so darn hard and I don’t like it!” I’m right there with her when it comes to high notes. I don’t really enjoy them. Perhaps it’s because I was an English hornist for so long. Or because my voice isn’t a high one. Or maybe I’m just lazy. But I find high notes to be a pain sometimes.

Still, we mustn’t let the audience know that what we are doing is something we don’t like to do, or that it’s awfully difficult. When an audience member comes up and says something like, “WOW. That looked SO hard and I was worried the whole time,” I’m not excited about it, despite the fact that they may have been trying to pay me a compliment. If I made them that nervous, I need to change how I’m doing things.

Body language is important in music. We shouldn’t cringe when we make a mistake, and everyone knows that. (We shouldn’t cringe when someone else makes a mistake either. Nor should we turn at look at the individual who made an error. I was playing in an orchestra recently where one player actually turned and glared when something not to the player’s liking occurred. It was awful to see.)

I’m not saying it’s not work, this music making that we do. Believe me, it is. I get home and I’m exhausted. Sometimes my body is sore from the work. Really! But I just don’t really care to see people telegraphing all their thoughts of how hard something is (and how they don’t like what they are doing) via body language.

Maybe some disagree with me. But that’s how I feel about it.

Speaking of making it look easy … this violinist looks like she’s having fun, and all those fast notes just look easy as she plays, as if it takes barely any effort. What fun! (I’m sure great effort is put into her preparation which enables her to look more relaxed in performance. Ahhh … preparation! I wish more students thought about that more frequently.)


  1. Beautiful post, Patty. I’m going to show this to my students. Thanks!

  2. Thank you Kathy! (And now please help me play wonderful high notes like you play!)