Don't Be Shy

I think of this concept in a few different ways. First, never play in a physically tentative way. Many players see a low dynamic marking on a part and let that turn them into apologetic, frightened musicians. I think it is beneficial to do the exact opposite. In order to have a clear front and shape to your notes and phrases in softer dynamics, you need a very confident and steady air stream, even if it is escaping your body at a lower volume. The softer you play, the more confidently you play!

Another issue many people have is playing in a musically tentative style. I'm not a big fan of playing question marks. If you're playing for a recital or an audition committee, commit to never play for approval. Don't play what you hope will make the audience happy. Rather, play what you believe in your heart is correct. If you do this, they are more likely to be convinced, and you are more likely to be inspired to play with conviction. Please note that in order to carry out this approach, you have to have something that you want to say musically. This only works if you have carefully thought through the musical decisions that you make. So, you have to put in some work to back up all that confidence!