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CONFIDENT MUSIC PERFORMANCE: Part 5 - How to Prepare for a Confident Performance

Thorough Preparation

Being super prepared is irreplaceable to ensure a confident performance. It means practicing like a pro, fixing boo-boos early on, and having clear goals. Procrastination, avoidance, and getting sidetracked can mess up your prep, leading to those inevitable nerves. Just like programming a computer, feeding our brain the right information through disciplined practice lets us perform like a boss even when the pressure's on. But watch out, any slip-ups and clumsy bits you learned during the initial stages can resurface when the heat is on.


Practice Party for the Weeks Before Showtime

  1. SLO-MO MODE: Slow and steady wins the race when learning new tunes. Try slowing down with a metronome (or singers, use that Google Chrome extension to slow down or transpose tracks). This approach allows for the development of technical proficiency and rhythmic control. By cranking up the speed little by little, you can challenge yourself without even noticing the tempo rising.

  2. CHOP IT UP: Breaking your practice into bite-sized bits keeps you focused and relaxed. Small, concentrated practice help your brain process info better, making learning and retention a breeze.

  3. SET GOALS: Splitting big goals into smaller victories and tracking your progress pumps you up, keeps you on track, and gives you direction.

  4. MEMORISE: Knowing your music inside out lets you to focus more on musical expression during the performance. Singers and pianists will often internalise their music to enhance their connection with the piece and audience.

Practice Plan for the Days Before Showtime

  1. GET IT TOGETHER: As the big day nears, shift your focus to solidifying your skills instead of last-minute cramming. Play or sing through the whole shebang without stopping a bunch of times each day to build up your stamina and confidence. This is different from your usual practice, which often involves lots of stops and starts.

  2. FAKE IT 'TIL YOU MAKE IT: Run through pretend performances with your pals as your audience. Take these rehearsals seriously to mimic the real deal. Mentally prep all day, setting the stage just like the actual performance. Practice in your performance gear with some background noise to boost your focus and test your memory under tough conditions.

  3. REHEARSE WITH ACCOMPANIST: If performing with an accompanist, rehearse together extensively beforehand if possible. Give clear cues for entrances and tempo preferences, rehearsing opening passages multiple times. Make sure the tempo reflects your comfort level. Study the music inside out to avoid slip-ups; but if you mess up, maintain the beat and trust your accompanist to get you back on track. Provide music well in advance, mark breaths and tempo changes in the score, and acknowledge their contribution post-performance.

  4. SCHEDULE SMART: Plan out your days leading up to the show. Don't overload yourself with commitments right before or on the big day. Balance your practice time with some chill time. Good time management cuts down on stress and amps up your readiness.

  5. OWN THE STAGE: Practice your stage presence, especially if you're a newbie, with a mentor or buddy by your side. Getting comfy with the stage routine boosts your confidence and poise. Audiences love a performer who owns it. Prepare attire well in advance to avoid last-minute wardrobe malfunctions.

  6. STAY FRESH: Keep your body happy with regular exercise, enough rest, and good eats. Relax those tense muscles with a swim or stroll. Eat well while keeping a lid on the caffeine, smokes, and booze to max out your performance power.

  7. THE NIGHT BEFORE: Set up a chill routine the night before for a good night's sleep and mental prep. Avoid late-night rehearsals if possible or any post-rehearsal outings. Wind down with a calming activity like reading, a cozy drink, or a soak to unwind.


Dealing with the Hours to Showtime

  1. GET READY: Prep your body and mind for peak performance. Keep busy to shut out those nervous thoughts while making sure all your gear is good to go. Check your instrument (if you have one) to dodge any last-minute surprises. Warm up with gentle exercises and easy run-throughs to save your mojo for the real deal. Cut back on the chitchat and unnecessary stresses. Focus on your role or character to get in the zone for showtime.

  2. GRAB A BITE: Chow down on some carbs for lasting energy, keeping the greasy stuff in check. If eating is a struggle, go for glucose treats or sports drinks to keep your energy up. Musicians might sneak in a bit of chocolate for a mood boost. But singers, watch out for that mucus trap with dairy products.

  3. CHILL OUT: Find ways to relax, whether it's reading, strolling, meditating, showering, fresh air, or sunshine. Moving around can ease tension, helping you to relax and get set for the show.

  4. EARLY BIRD: Give yourself plenty of time for warm-ups, prep, and getting comfy in the performance spot. Ensure sufficient time to locate and familiarise yourself with the venue. Avoid rushing to reduce pre-performance stress.

  5. LOOSEN UP: Consider bringing a mini massager to soothe your neck, shoulders, and pressure points. Massage helps shake off the tension, setting you up for a relaxed and focused state before going onstage. Or try gentle stretches for your back, shoulders, neck, jaw, and tongue. A light massage above the eyes can release emotional stress and get you in the zone to perform without overthinking.


Handling the Moments Before Showtime

  1. BREATHING AND VOCAL WARM UPS: Engage in gentle breathing exercises and vocal warm-ups. Do sustained low notes or slow scales to prepare your voice and calm nerves.

  2. TEMPERATURE CONTROL: Avoid cold drinks and environments to prevent muscle tension in your limbs. Cold contracts muscles, so stay cozy to keep those muscles relaxed and ready for action. If it's too toasty, find ways to cool down with water, fans/air con, ice packs, and fresh air. Handheld electric fans are a lifesaver for heavy costumes and wigs.

  3. FIDGET FIX: Occupy those jittery hands with finger workouts, fidget toys, or squishy stuff. Focusing on physical fine motor movement can divert attention from nervousness, promoting concentration and readiness.

  4. POSITIVE MENTALITY: Mentally rehearse the performance with positivity and confidence. Visualise success, imagining using effortless projection and a clear tone.

  5. PROTECT YOUR SPACE: Maintain personal space backstage. Avoid unnecessary distractions or gossip that may disrupt your focus. Establish personal rituals to centre your thoughts and energies before going onstage.

  6. KEEP IT LIGHT: Have some fun to ease the tension. Crack jokes, play games, whistle a tune, whatever gets you in a good mood and keeps the vibe positive backstage.


Tips for the Final Countdown

  1. BREATHING: These moments are crucial for staying cool as a cucumber and dodging any freak-outs. Take a breather backstage, do some slow breathing and centring exercises that work for you.

  2. MOVE YOUR BODY: Shake out your limbs and hands to get the blood flowing to your fingers and feet.

  3. VISUALISE SUCCESS: Picture yourself as a superstar character or performer, embodying their posture and positive vibes.

  4. POSTURE CHECK: Stand upright with relaxed posture, exuding confidence without stiffness.

  5. FACIAL EXPRESSION: Wear a bright, confident smile or a composed, dignified expression to set a positive tone.

  6. BODY CHECK: Do a quick body scan to make sure you're relaxed and ready:

  • Check if your head feels relaxed, forehead smooth, jaw unclenched, and mouth not too dry.

  • Keep your neck loose, shoulders down, hands free, and relaxed.

  • Chest is upright and contracting air easily.

  • Make sure your stomach is comfy, legs strong, knees unlocked, toes unscrunched, and feet firmly planted.

PART 6 CONTINUES… How to Perform to the Best of Your Ability


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