Gaining confidence playing in front of others


Tonight we learnt the Johnstown Reel, a slow reel written by the flute player Rebecca Knorr.

We also worked on bowing the tripet (or is it a birl?) at the start of the tune. After the discussion we had in the class tonight, I thought I’d do a quick Google search for the difference between a triplet and a birl. Unfortunately Google was determined that I was really looking for the difference between a triplet and a girl, so that was interesting, but not particularly helpful! Thanks to Pamela for this link, which gives some info on naming, in the section on bowed ornamentation.

We worked on making the bow really connect with the string at the start of the down bow going into the triplet, putting pressure on with the index finger, to get the bow hairs to ‘bite’ into the string at the very start of the note. The second note is a very short up bow. It’s so short, the note pretty much disappears. There’s more information on playing triplets here.

Gaining confidence

Several people in the class wanted to work on gaining confidence when playing in front of other people, either at sessions, or on their own,. So tonight, we tried out having a small group playing the tune we’d learnt tonight to the rest of the class. there are several things you can do to help lessen the nerves if you’re not used to playing in front of other people.

  • Play tunes you are very familiar with
  • If you’re playing with anyone else, make sure you’re all clear how you will start and end the tune or set of tunes, and how many repetitions you’ll play for each tune
  • Decide before you start playing what speed you will play at. You might want to start your foot tapping at that speed before you play, or count in, if you’re playing with other people

We also spent some time working on tone, getting individual open strings to resonate and ring out after playing a long note. Playing in tune will help your tone, and knowing that you can reliably play with a good strong tone will help your confidence.