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How To Make The Most Out Of Your Musical Performance

When you play a musical instrument it is great to have goals to work towards. This could be a performance in a practical examination or a concert. It is natural to become nervous in these situations but there are ways which you can help yourself to enhance your performance. Here they are.

1. Are you well prepared? Make sure that you have done all the work and practise before the big day or you have decided to do the performance work your preparation plan week by week and stick to it. It is short term and you will benefit for being totally prepared. If you are playing scales for an examination, then prepare pieces of paper with each scale and arpeggio written down. Place pieces in a box or jar and at each practise session pull out a chosen number eg 8 pieces of paper and then play them. This is like hearing what the examiner asks you to play and then playing it.

2. For wind players mark extra breaths. When one is nervous one tends to breathe faster and more shallowly. What you could do is make yourself short of breath by running up and down the driveway or stairs, and the play your music. Mark in the places where you need to breathe. You can indicate the extra breathes in brackets and only take them if required. Practise both ways.

3. Rehearse your accompanied pieces with a pianist. A recording of the accompaniments would aid in rehearsals at home.

4. Practise performing your pieces to family and friends. Replicate the actual performance eg if you are playing in a concert introduce the piece if that is what you are going to do.

5. Practise your pieces in the order you are going to play them.

6. Make sure your instrument is in peak condition eg sort out a sticky pad on a flute or strings on a violin. Bring along a musical kit suitable to your instrument eg a screwdriver to fix a loose key on a flute.

7. Have a look at the venue before hand. It always helps the nerves if you can visualise where you have to perform. Better still , see if you can have a practise there. This would greatly benefit pianists as the piano could feel different to your one. Also it gives you a chance to find your way there which will benefit you on the day.

8. Dress neatly and comfortably.

9. Make sure you have eaten something. You can't play well on an empty stomach and you do not want your stomach to rumble in that quiet, emotional section of the piece!

10. Before leaving the house make sure you have everything: where you are going, your music including the accompanist's music if they have not got it , your instrument ( if it is not a piano ) and a drink. You may be waiting a while and could get thirsty.

11. Arrive to the venue well before time so you have time to warm up before hand. If you are doing an examination it is usual to be there 15-20 minutes before hand. Also if you aim to be there early then this could allow for hiccups on route eg traffic jams. This is where you can do a preliminary tune. You can tune again at the performance.

12. Adjust the music stand to the correct height for you. This is done before hand or at the performing time depending on where it is

13. Relaxation exercises like deep breathing to help calm you.

14. Smile at the audience or say hello to the examiner.

15. Enjoy your performance and the applause, if it is a concert.

You have been given some ideas on how to make the most of your performance opportunity. Did you enjoy the procedure? Will you do it again? Maybe you will choose the other option next time ie an examination if you did a concert this time. Whatever it is , just enjoy the pleasure your musical instrument gives you and others.