Have the Best Performance of Your Life!
If you’ve ever done anything in front of a crowd, you know the rush of adrenaline that can surge through your body.
For many people the adrenaline rush feels like fear—sweaty hands, pounding heart, a rush of nervousness, and butterflies thumping around in your stomach. But adrenaline is the same powerful natural chemical that allows people to perform superhuman feats. So what gives?
It turns out that adrenaline can work for you or against you. For performers who learn to harness the power of adrenaline, performances are an exhilarating experience. Worry about remembering the right notes in the right order is replaced with thrilling accuracy and sparkling technique. But how can music students capture the magical power of adrenaline and use it to deliver the best performance of their lives? Over the next three weeks California Music Studios will publish a PERFORMANCE SERIES here on our blog to offer some great techniques to help you find your inner diva.
PERFORMANCE POWER I
Practice Techniques to Prepare 2-3 Weeks in Advance of Your Big Performance:
It all starts with your practice. If you want to play accurately in front of a hundred people, you’d better be able to play accurately when you’re all by yourself. But all practice isn’t created equal. Here are some practice techniques that will help prepare you for that blockbuster performance:
Divide and Conquer
Divide your music into sections—they can be as long as a page or as short as a few measures. Number them and train yourself to start on any of them at a moment’s notice: Do five jumping jacks, then start on section 5. Get a glass of water and then start on section 18. You get the picture.
When you can do this, you have many different spots in your music that you can jump to if you hit a wrong note in performance. Most of the time just knowing that you’ll be able to recover from any mistake will help prevent your brain from making them in the first place.
As counter-intuitive as it seems, sometimes the secret to playing that fast and flashy passage is actually practicing it really slowly. Just as you build muscle faster by doing ten slow push-ups than twenty fast push-ups, practicing your music slowly allows your brain and your fine-motor muscles to fully absorb the details of what they need to do. Try taking your music in those smaller sections you already divided them into and practicing each one 3 times at half the normal tempo. When practicing at half tempo, concentrate on keeping each finger or facial motion precise and perfect. You’ll be shocked at how accurately you’ll be able to play or sing when you speed back up!
It doesn’t really matter who you perform for—your dog counts!—what matters is that you do it and do it often. Any performance can give you a jolt of adrenaline, and when you get used to how that adrenaline affects you, you can learn to channel it in ways that make your performances better. There are only two important rules for these performances: 1. Don’t stop! 2. Play the last note perfectly. If you learn how to fake a good finish in practice, you’ll probably never need to use one when it counts. So grab a parent, a friend, a neighbor, or a pet, and make some time to perform every day.
You’ve Got This!
When you are prepared for your performance, there’s really nothing to be afraid of. When that adrenaline rush kicks in, you’re going to know exactly what to do. So whether you’re preparing for our upcoming Spring Formal Recitals at Temple bat Yahm on March 2, the Ruby Schulman Theater on March 9, Greene Music on March 16, or anything else from a school play to a sold-out concert hall, use these tips to make sure it’s the best performance of your life (so far—because it only keeps getting better)!
Watch next week for the next post in our series next week: Finding Your Zen in Performance.