7 Tips for Preparing for a Performance
Whether it be a recital or an audition, performing on stage in front of judges and a live audience can be nerve-wrecking. As someone who has gone through multiple auditions and live performances, I have developed some useful habits that can help you conquer your fears and shine on stage!
Practice, practice and practice
The most important part of preparing for a performance is to keep practicing your piece. Of course, this may seem like a no-brainer but many have underestimated the hours and effort that are needed to put into a music performance. Make sure that you are not under-prepared and that you are going over that tough section to reinforce the correct motions.
Quantity is important when it comes to practice, but so is quality. You may put in the hours but without correcting your mistakes, there is no point in practicing at all. If you are facing difficulty in playing a certain section of your piece, go over it slowly and gradually build up speed once you are more confident in playing that part. Keep practicing the movement over and over again so that you build muscle memory!
2. Memorise your piece
If it is a short piece, you can memorise it one measure at a time. From there, you can start linking the measures into lines, and then lines into pages, and finally into the whole piece.
Towards the performance date, you should no longer rely on sight reading the music piece, even if you are good at it. Practice playing the entire piece without looking at the music sheets. This way, you will have lesser chances of stumbling over your performance as you would already be familiar with the entire composition.
3. Record yourself
A really useful habit that I do when I prepare for a performance is to record the rehearsals and play back to spot mistakes that could have gone unheard while practicing, especially if you are playing with other people. Once you have spotted your mistakes, spend more time practicing on the trouble spots together with your bandmates.
4. Practice in front of your family and friends
This can be really helpful when trying to get over stage fright. By playing in front of your family and friends, you get used to being comfortable with performing in front of a live audience. In addition, your friends and family could give feedback and suggestions on how to improve on your performance.
5. Take breaks
Remember to take breaks when you are mentally fatigue! Our brain needs downtime to rest so that it can form important neural connections that shape our behavior. Without breaks, it can reduce your productivity and ability to think clearly. In fact, giving yourself some time to rest helps you to re-focus and retain information in memory.
6. Be organised and ready
On rehearsal and performance days, make sure that you have prepared the right equipment that are needed. This includes tuning your instruments beforehand and packing spares that can be readily used in case things go wrong. For example, if you are performing in a band, you may want to prepare back-up musical accessories such as strings, drumsticks and pedals.
Be organised and professional when you are doing a soundcheck. You want to take full advantage of the run so being efficient and organised is important to help prevent any delays on the day of the performance.
7. Have fun!
Lastly, allow yourself to have fun! Yes, preparing for a performance can be stressful but make sure that you are also having fun within those stressful times. In fact, immersing yourself in an activity that you enjoy can increase your psychological health and bring you in a relaxed state of mind. ¹ A performer having fun will also be more engaging to the audience as they feed off the lively energy that you bring to them.
Get used to having a good time on stage and you won't be dreading the next!
Zoe is an avid fan of all kinds of music. Her primary instrument is the guitar but she is always passionately learning how to play other instruments such as the drums and keyboard. She is currently playing the bass guitar in a band and has been routinely involved in music since she was a child.