Preparing to Perform

This past weekend, Steve and I held a joint studio recital (our first!) at the church.  We had almost a dozen students sign up to participate and we've spent the past several weeks of lessons trying to prepare them to perform (for many, this was a first).


How do we prepare to perform?  We do warm-ups, technical exercises, and breathing exercises (for saxophone players, that is!); we practice pedaling in our shoes; we learn how to sit properly, stand properly, bow properly; we practice bringing our hands up to the keyboard and away at the end of a piece; we practice from memory; we perform in front of others; we strive to keep going no matter what happens.  I think this last item is one of the more difficult ones.  Our initial, natural response seems to be to freeze - as if to think, "Did anyone hear that?"

After many recital experiences of my own (including my 2nd grade horror story of completely blanking on Minuet 2), I feel as if I learn something new about myself each time.  There's only so much one can do to prepare for something.  Preparing to perform is no different.  As a teacher, I try to instill confidence, teach professionalism, train memory skills, and encourage students to be the best they can be.  Though, isn't it true that until we experience that rush of excitement and nerves and the flutter of muscles while playing (I have many stories of shaky hands and jittery legs), we don't fully know how to prepare to perform?  For many, myself included, it's a face-to-face confrontation with fear.  It's not about being perfect and not making any mistakes.  It's about communicating with others, sharing music, and overcoming ourselves.

How do you prepare to perform?