Posted: 12/15/2005 1:36:07 AM

From: Kansas City, Mo.

Joined: 8/23/2005

Schielenkrahe gave similar advice in the Aerial Fingering forum and I found his advice to be extremely valuable.

Mr. SchielenKRahe is a gifted precision Thereminist and his performances are really quite free-flowing.

While exercises such as the Clara Rockmore method emphasize hitting the notes Schielenkrahe's exercise will help you learn the manner in which you hit the notes. The space between the notes has as much to do with the performance as the notes themselves. The other benefit is that this excercise may open doors for you -- you may find yourself playing material on the Theremin that you would have thought impossible.

Just as vibrato and dynamics influence the mood of the music, so does the movement from note to note. A rapid movement gives an "urgency" to music, a relaxed gliss gives a sense of calm, a slow glissando can be a special effect or it can be "molto expressivo" depending on the context.

Anyway, this is somewhat off the topic of "jitters" however wanted to mention that I have found value in these methods.
Posted: 12/15/2005 3:43:35 AM

From: Portland, OR, USA, Terra, Sol, Milkyway

Joined: 3/1/2005

Here's another idea. I used this when performing in a talent show last summer.

If possible go to the venue you are going to perform at ahead of time. Set up and practice the set of songs your going to play without the audience present. Perhaps practicing some other material and exercises might be helpful too while at the venue.
Posted: 12/15/2005 8:42:44 AM

From: Jax, FL

Joined: 2/14/2005

Schielenkrahe, That is so true!

The idea of playing without thinking.

It is "playing" in the true sense of the word.

I have been in quite a few bands and I always tell them that we need time to "play" with a small "p" as opposed to "Playing" with a capital "P" all the time.

When you are small-p playing you are having fun and if it doesn't sound great it doesn't matter.

It is about exploring sounds and textures and getting to know your instrument, yourself, and your fellow musicians and how they all interact with each other.

I would highly recommend just goofing around with the theremin. Make noises and strange sounds, whatever comes out without worrying about it.
Posted: 12/15/2005 9:45:39 AM

From: Morrisville, PA

Joined: 10/19/2005

It's important to remember that the reason for the two steps I suggested is specifically intended to give you the conscious experience of playing without effort. To intellectually attempt this, or to use technical proficiency to attempt this will only succeed if you've had the experience already, without boundaries. Using the methods I described will contribute to the ABILITY to play with technical proficiency.

Some people find Step Two more difficult than they imagine it will be because in doing it, the player also confronts his or her own inhibitions almost immediately. A form of internal nervousness. One feels pressured to improvise well, until arriving at the realization that there is no such thing.

I would also put this notion out there: there seems to be some sort of equity built up around the assertion that -- to quote a tremendous number of people -- "the theremin is the most difficult instrument in the world to play." My own opinion is that this is a myth, one that, by its very nature, is self-defeating.

What other pursuit can you think of that has as one of its primary dictates "this is the most difficult thing in the world to do"? Think of the fascination and enthusiasm most of us initially experience when we first decided we're going to try to play a theremin. We buy one, wait for it to arrive, open it up, plug it in, then start. Hmmm...it IS different than we thought it would be. Now the prevailing philsophy kicks in, a sort of backhanded pseudo-encouragement: "FANTASTIC! You've decided to play the theremin. Welcome to the growing community of theremin enthusiasts! Oh, by the way, (remember, we told you so) this thing is so difficult you probably won't be able to do it." Who wants to begin that way?

Believe me, I aspire to play well, I practice, I study the sheet music, I work on everything from correctness to expressiveness. However, I do so KNOWING that perfection is an illusion. It's like the many people I know who maintain they are unable to draw. To make that assertion and BELIEVE IT is to forever measure oneself against the accomplishments of others. Betty Edwards' book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, smashed the myth that some people can't draw and proved that EVERYONE can.

Only Clara Rockmore plays as well as Clara Rockmore. YOU will play as well as you allow yourself to -- your potential is limited only by the obstacles you encounter, some of which you yourself will create.

I've gone on long enough, but I'd offer one more technique that is hilarious, humbling and invaluable. (It's great to have people do at parties). For those who think it's silly, fine...

What happens as one learns to play the theremin, (or as one learns ANY acitivity requiring some form of physical skill), is that you acutally form new neural pathways from the brain to those areas you use when playing. To encourage this process is reflexive; working in one area enhances abilities in other areas. Ready?...

Lower the theremin to the level of the seat of a chair. Sit in the chair and place the theremin in front of you, about four feet away. Take off your shoes and socks. Get comfortable. Now, in seeming contradiction to everything I've just spouted off about, YOU ARE going to try to play a song perfectly -- The Star Spangled Banner (or the national anthem of the country you happen to be from). Play the song as perfectly as you can -- with YOUR FOOT. What have you got to lose?

This technique is perfect for any time you feel you're really improving as a theremin player. The truth is, YOU ARE. Playing with your foot will always humble you, AND actually improve your normal playing as a result of the refinement of neural pathways in the body.

Call me crazy, but I've got three rapidly improving, barefooted students who've joined me in the nuthouse.
Posted: 12/20/2005 9:42:15 AM

From: Jax, FL

Joined: 2/14/2005

I wouldn't call you crazy at all.

I approach music the same way. I always tell my freinds to "play with what you have", by which I mean you should not be so concerned with perfection that you do not have fun playing.

I have a friend who has been playing guitar and kayboards for about 20 years but he has almost never played in front of a live audience.

He is very good but he is so concerned with being perfect and having the best equipment that he is his own biggest obstacle.

Keep us posted on your students' progress!
Posted: 12/20/2005 10:21:24 AM

From: Richmond Hill, Georgia

Joined: 9/18/2005

It was so bad, you'd think I'd never "touched" the thing before. But listen to me playing with my bride in the privacy of our home, and its like two different people.

The link is over in the newcomers section.
Posted: 2/1/2006 4:52:12 PM

From: Kingston, NY

Joined: 2/13/2005

This has reminded me of a book Kip recommended to me:
"Effortless Mastery: Liberating the Master Musician Within" by Kenny Werner

Werner's a jazz pianist but the advice is universal. I found it helpful with this sort of stuff.

As mentioned before in this thread always have a dress rehearsal with all the same elements as your performance and in the venue if possible. These should also include "none musical" concerns like: wear the same shoes and clothes/costume; and practice your entrance and any "blocking" or gestures too as part of your rehearsal; even your bow I think is a good thing to rehearse as a beginner.
I haven't had the thrill of playing the theremin publicly yet but these practices have helped me a lot with other performances.

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