23rd February 2001 at 00:00
KEEPING YOUR NERVE. By Kate Jones. Faber pound;3

This encouraging booklet for young musicians shows how nerves can be not merely overcome but turned to positive advantage in performance. Keeping Your Nerve offers much common-sense advice about judicious anticipation - the organisation of practice, gaining familiarity with venues, timings and running orders. Kate Jones also covers aspects of physical and mental relaxation, and becoming familiar with what stress will feel like so it can be faced. Parents and tachers are not forgotten; they cannot play or sing for the student, but their well-meant interventions can be ruinous.

The most interesting section draws on the experience of well-known musicians, such as Joanna McGregor, Elvis Costello and Steven Isserlis, who explain how they use many preparatory means, from swimming to the recital of maxims to give their skills a timely edge. Just enough anxiety to put heart - even a thumping heart - into the music seems best for performers and listeners.

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