Never hold back!
I'm sure you would expect my first post to be of an oboist, but no! It is hugely important to listen to lots of different music, styles and performers and learn from them all.
My reason for posting this link of Patricia Petibon is to make you think about performance and musical character. Watch this video, really think about how she is performing, what it makes you feel when you watch it and listen to the performance.
Did you think on first viewing that it seemed a bit much, a bit over the top or did she just seem to be emotionally involved in her performance? Perhaps listen again with your eyes closed and does this make you feel any different about the performance?
I personally love this performance. I see a performer incredibly focused on every aspect of what she is doing. Heart and soul is being put into demonstrating the character and telling the story whilst the concentration shows focus on technique and thought about what she is doing and how she is doing it. She looks like she is enjoying what she is doing despite the focus she is relaxed and moving with the music but in a way that won't interfere with her technique and performance. The part that really hits me is this is a performer that is not holding back in the slightest, no playing safe, she is giving the piece every bit of emotion she can.
We should all strive to perform in this way, to perform from the heart, get emotionally involved in the music we are playing, tell a story, make sure you are focused and have the technical aspects under control and don't hold back.
Don't aim to play safe and give a 'nice' performance. Always try and make your performance exciting, brimming with character, emotion and passion. Never hold back, tell a story and remember to enjoy your performance!