At Eagle Rock Music Studio, our students frequently ask us for tips on preparing for an upcoming performance. Getting nervous on stage is natural, but one thing veteran musicians agree on is that the more prepared you are, the less nervous you’ll be when the day of your performance arrives. Here are five different ways to ensure you have prepared completely.
Own Your Art
A performance is your opportunity to express yourself. Be sure to know the piece(s)/song(s) you are performing so intuitively that you can present them as an extension of who you are as an artist. Deliver each note with conviction; draw in the room’s energy toward you while you perform. Be sure to do some practice performances in front of others so you can gauge your performance’s effect.
Don’t Skimp on Technique and Form
Connecting with your audience on an emotional level is certainly important, but being technically prepared is also essential — getting notes wrong never provides any benefit. If the performance requires you to stand, practice performing while standing; if the performance requires you to sit, practice performing while sitting. Try to practice in an environment with similar lighting and room size. What you are aiming for is to have nothing about the performance be unfamiliar by the time you take the stage. The fewer new things your brain is confronted with during your performance, the more focused you’ll be.
Give Your Mind and Emotions a Workout, Too
You will perform best if your mind is clear and if your emotions are engaged. It might be tempting to keep your emotions bottled up so you can magically summon them during the performance, but this is easier said than done. The more often you “go there” with your mind and your emotions, the more comfortable you’ll be during a performance, and the more you’ll be able to absorb from the crowd and add into it, too.
Think of Yourself as an Athlete
Remember that your performance will take physical exertion, and it will seem even more demanding since you are in front of an audience. Make sure you are well rested and feeling fresh on the day of the performance. Minimize stress from outside activities, don’t skip meals, and avoid caffeine, as this will make you feel jittery. Exercise regularly, but go easy on yourself on performance day and avoid arduous rehearsals the day of.
Give Organization Its Due
Life is a balance. Often what makes us good at something leaves us underdeveloped in other areas. And although it certainly isn’t true of every artist, many have trouble with the organizational side of their careers. If this is the case for you, make sure you have the organizational aspects of your performance locked down well in advance of your performance. As a performance, you want to be focused entirely on your performance when the time comes. Make sure the little things are taken care of (e.g., arrive early and with all of your equipment intact) and you’ll be on your way.