I have been talking about tension and stage fright. Slow practice is key to resolving these problems. But how do we use this slow practice?
Most of us hard-wire all kinds of extra effort into our playing. I always try not to work any harder than necessary.
When performing a certain task (it can be as simple as pulling an up bow, or putting down your 4th finger) stop and analyze yourself. Are you holding tension? Perhaps in your neck? Or shoulders? Chest? Hips? Release it, paying close attention to what that feels like.
Next, do the task again, but instead of recreating the tension you discovered, build the release into the action itself. It will take time – perhaps months – to make release the habit rather than tension, but it can be done. Slow, mindful practice is the key.