Preparing for a recital can be incredibly nerve wracking and daunting for any performing musician.

Here, we’ll dive deeper into how you can transform your preparation routine to set you up for success.

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Mental preparation

Our brains often create negative voices that try to break us down before we can enter the “musical temple” of peace, beauty, and love (the state we must be in to make music). 

When you go to bed the night before a concert, trust the work you’ve done. Whatever happens is now out of your control. 

Remember that it is the journey, not the result, that counts the most!

On the day of the concert, keep in mind that you are on this journey of music-making together with your instrument. 

You aren’t alone! 

We often want a guarantee that we won’t make a mistake, but this is simply our egos talking. 

Don’t take out the instrument from its case or sit at the piano until mentally affirming to yourself that you and the instrument are partners on this journey. 

This helps you remove the ego from your feelings about the performance. 

Warming up

As you warm up your fingers, envision that the guitar is also warming up her voice. 

Run some scales and arpeggios, and then run your program one more time. Play it slowly but beautifully. If you make a mistake, don’t freak out! 

Be grateful that it happened to you during the warmup where you still have a chance to correct it. Repeat that spot a few times and clarify it mentally. Finish playing the piece and put the instrument away.

Acclaimed guitarist Pepe Romero prefers to nap before a performance. 

If you can’t do this, at least have a few minutes where you can close your eyes and relax your mind. Do something that takes your mind off the music you’re about to play.

Romero also enjoys having coffee before a performance since he finds that it enhances his memory. It also reinforces a feeling of relaxation for him. 

He plays a few passages just after awakening from his nap and then again once he arrives at the venue; typically he plays some arpeggios or flamenco techniques to relax the hands.

A few minutes before you go out onstage, dedicate your performance. Think about the people that you love unconditionally. 

Music comes from this place in our hearts – it’s an expression of love. Fear can only be conquered by the presence of love. 

Romero’s last thoughts before playing are: “I dedicate this experience to your pleasure and to glorify God (any God, of any religion, even that of non-believers).” It’s not about raising the status of the performer, or the quality of your upcoming performance. 

It’s about coming together to enjoy an experience. 

A great concert is where mysterious things take place.

Conclusion

A strong warmup routine combined with controlled mental preparation will make your recital experience much smoother.

If you’d like to watch the lesson on this topic for free, just click here.

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Dave McLellan

Concert & Chamber Musician

Join over 40,000 pianists improving every day with courses and lessons on tonebase.