You’ve learned all your music and you are ready to perform.
That’s great, but is that all you need to prepare for that exam or big music performance?
Many times my students and myself have thought they were ready for that all-important gig, only to find that despite their best efforts in the practice room, their performance was only average.
When you perform, especially if you are not used to it, you are going to have to deal with:
• Nervousness (maybe even performance anxiety)
• Distraction, and
• Unfamiliar surroundings.
Here are some tips on how you might go about that.
I often refer to the exercises on breathing to begin your practice session.
What you may not realise is the importance of these in order to train yourself to pay attention to, and be able to tune into your breathing.
When you are nervous, often the first thing to be affected is your breath.
Holding the breath is one way you can be affected or not taking deep enough breaths is another.
This in turn causes your body to become tense and when your body is tense, it is a lot harder to make music.
Once you find it difficult to make music, your thoughts can become negative and again, impact even more on your music.
It doesn’t sound fun, does it?
By practicing your breathing exercises as well as some other kind of meditation, if you are so inclined, will help you to:
1. Become aware when your breathing is not natural, and
2. Help you to bring your breathing back to normal.
If you can do this, you will find your nerves will dissipate, you will become more present and your body will not suffer all the other affects like shaking or sweating which can be a result of tension and negative thinking.
Unless you are a seasoned performer (and even then sometimes), you can become distracted while playing.
The source of such distractions can be either internal (like self-conscious or negative thoughts) or external and it is important to learn how to bring yourself back to the music if you do become distracted.
Not long ago I was doing a performance after a long break and my daughter was running around the dance floor.
She tripped and started crying and boy, it was a huge dilemma for me as my impulse was to get up straight away and go to her aide, even though her Dad was close by to rescue her.
Needless to say, I became hugely distracted.
Fortunately, it was a solo gig so no-one was depending on me to keep it together.
This is one of the most crucial aspects to develop in performance – being able to keep going and make something of your “mistakes”.
Besides getting a lot of experience in performance, the exercises that can best prepare you for this are:
1. Practicing your pieces with metronome. If you make a mistake, just keep going and keep in time!
2. Practice free improvisation. By doing this you will learn to accept any sound that eminates from your music and won’t be horrified when you hit a “wrong” note.
Again, learning to bring yourself back from a distracting thought or presence of someone or something needs to be practiced.
For some people unfamiliar surroundings can be off-putting and distracting, however, it is often the case that you will have to perform either on an unfamiliar instrument and/or in a place you have not been to before.
If possible, always try to visit the venue and play the instrument you will be using for your performance so you can become familiar with the equipment and the room. This is what a Live Band for hire Melbourne does.
It will help you to feel a lot more relaxed.
If you can do this, then you can also better visualise a successful performance in that space.
If you haven’t already, please read the article on visualisation, to gain an understanding of how this can help you prepare for success.
What Else Do I Need To Practice?
All too often we can spend a lot of time on the pieces we need to play because there is a feeling of running out of practice time.
But if you make time to focus on technique you will be a lot better able to play your pieces and feel a lot more confident in your body’s ability and muscle memory to get around the music.
There are many ways to practice this and you can choose these methods for yourself but if you are really finding performing difficult, you could try using a hypnosis method which helps you to be more relaxed and positive. There are plenty you can look up on the internet.