As NOLA School of Music is getting ready for our first ever Student Concert this May, a lot of our students are preparing for their first performance!
Performing your instrument in front of an audience can be scary. Nerves and adrenaline can cause you to make silly mistakes you've never even made before — in front of a huge room full of people!
Fortunately, there are some ways smart musicians can prepare for performances and make sure those mistakes don't happen (and if they do happen, you can prepare for how to recover from them seamlessly!)
PRACTICE WITHOUT STOPPING
The first step in preparing for a music recital is to practice your entire piece without stopping. For anything. If you miss a note, keep moving. If you miss 10 notes, keep moving. The most important aspect of performing is to keep the tempo moving, no matter what.
Chances are, the audience won't even notice a few wrong notes. But they will notice if you stop your song to correct those wrong notes!
So practice your piece as if you're in the middle of a performance - ignore the mistakes and keep going! Then, after you've finished, go back and slowly re-work those spots you messed up on. (That's important, because you don't want your muscle memory to remember the mistakes you made!)
PLAN FOR EMERGENCIES!
So what do you do if you get to a spot where you can't keep going? Maybe you don't remember what notes come next, or you just got completely lost and don't even know where you are in the song.
Every student should plan for situations like this by choosing "start spots" in their piece. Mark 2 or 3 spots in your piece that you can easily pick up from if you get lost. Then practice starting from those spots until it comes easily to you.
PRACTICE EVERY ASPECT OF THE PERFORMANCE
Run through your entire performance exactly like it's going to be. Practice walking on stage, playing your piece, and bowing after your performance.
If you're playing multiple pieces, practice playing them back to back. If you're going to wear a specific pair of shoes our an outfit that might restrict your playing (like high heels!) If you're going to give a lengthy introduction to each song, practice that too!
GET MORE PERFORMANCE EXPERIENCE!
The best way to become a great performer is to get some experience at it. So try to take every opportunity you can perform - talent shows, open mics, recitals, choirs, etc. and you'll improve just by doing it!
The more you perform, you'll get better at coping with nerves and how to cover your mistakes.
Are you interested in getting performance experience? At NOLA School of Music, we have opportunities for our students to perform in multiple concerts a year. We love getting groups of students and teachers together to perform in bands!