If you’re on stage, you have to be in control of the situation. Here’s three ways to do it.
Your control of the audience begins when you walk on stage. You get to convey whatever it is you want to be. I suggest that you convey enjoyment.
Smile like your life depends on it when you walk in. It’s amazing what happens to an audience when a performer smiles. They’ll think you’re at home on the stage.
If you don’t feel like smiling, fake it.
2. Master the Silence
After (quietly) tuning, it’s time to start. Please don’t plow into the piece. Take a moment of poise before you begin.
This creates a tense moment, in which the audience knows that the real performance is about to begin. The moment of poise is a way to separate the walk in, seating and everything else from the music.
After you finish a piece, take another moment of poise. Play the silence at the end of the piece by freezing in place for a few heartbeats after muting the strings. Then relax, look up and smile (see above).
3. Stay Focused
As an audience member, it’s incredibly uncomfortably when you don’t know when to clap. Sure the program is there, but when a perform sends unclear signals it becomes difficult.
Practice the moment of poise (see above) after each movement, but stay focused on your instrument and the music. Do not address the audience by looking at them during this time. Take a few moments to relax (I like less time between movements, but that’s up to you!), then use another moment of poise and begin.
Of course if the movement was particularly fiery, you might get some applause anyway! That’s okay. I suggest acknowledging it with a smile and nod, but not a full bow. Save that for the end of the piece.