I'm a big believer in visualization: imagining yourself in the performance situation as you practice. This can really play a role from the early days of preparing your music, but should become an even bigger part of your routine once you can play your pieces start to finish.
In your mind, picture the performance in vivid detail.
If you can practice in the actual recital hall, that's even better! Imagine being backstage before the recital. You walk out, smiling at the audience. They applaud (that feels nice, doesn't it?). You take your bow (go ahead and bow if no one's watching you practice). You take a moment to be comfortable in the space, adjust your music stand, if necessary. Glance back to be sure your accompanist is ready, and give them a nod to begin. As you play the piece, avoid telegraphing your mistakes with your eyebrows (this takes effort!). Hear the accompaniment in your head. When you finish, hear the applause, smile at the audience, and bow. No matter how you feel about the way the performance (I mean practice run-through) went, you smile when people clap for you!! (Even if the applause is all in your head.) Don't forget to acknowledge your accompanist!
If you do this enough times, with enough detail, then when you get to the actual performance, it's almost as if you've been there before. Plus, it really is a good idea to practice the "extra" stuff, like bowing (look at your toes), smiling, acknowledging your accompanist, etc. That's all part of a live performance, and you've spent so much time practicing your music, you might as well be prepared for the other stuff, too.
Tapering is another concept that needs to be a part of your preparation as your performance approaches, and this has to do specifically with the last 24-48 hours before the show. Runners who are preparing for a marathon gradually build up their weekly mileage over the months leading up to the race. But then, the last week or two, they reduce their training significantly, so that their legs are fresh for the big day. In the same way, it's important that you take care to show up at your recital ready to play your best. Don't beat up your chops by over-practicing in the day or two beforehand. Personally, I like to have a full dress rehearsal 2 days before the recital, then the next day I take it easy, just doing a moderate amount of playing. At that point, I should have the music extremely well-prepared, and running over all those tricky spots again and again will not do as much good as a little rest and recovery. Experience will help you figure out what works best for you. Also, don't forget the importance of getting enough sleep and staying hydrated (to avoid drymouth!) in those last 48 hours.
Next, the final post in this series: "Breathe Deep and Blow Fast!"
tenet (ten' it), noun: a principle, doctrine, or belief held as truth
Welcome to my blog! Here I will share some of my thoughts on horn playing and teaching, which I think about a lot, and maybe some other things, too. Since my job (which thankfully, allows me to do a lot of playing and teaching) keeps me very busy, as does my wonderful family, I may not write frequently. My goal will be quality, not quantity!
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