How to prepare for a performance

By Robert Estrin


Question from a student:

How do you prepare for a concert? Do you play through your music on the day of the concert?


My advice:

This question raises many issues of concern to all performers. Performing music requires many different types of preparation including:


– Physical

– Mental

– Emotional


The most important aspect of preparing to perform a concert is the work that is done weeks and months before the performance. This is essential to accomplish all 3 aspects listed above. Obviously, a thorough knowledge of the score as well as technical fluency is required for a good performance. But equally important is the psychological preparation. If the first time you think about being out there in front of an audience is the moment of the performance, you will be ill-prepared for the surge of adrenalin that surely would result. Take time days in advance of the performance to imagine the moment in great detail while being in a relaxed state so you can trigger that feeling when the actual performance comes.


Trying out your music the day of the program is a good idea particularly if the piano is one that you aren’t intimately familiar with. A good addition is to play some of your pieces slowly with the music with no pedal to reinforce the memory. Some people like to have special routines on the day of a performance like taking a nap or a walk, avoiding caffeine, even eating bananas or taking beta blockers to help ease nerves. Other people like to go about their routines as normal. You should do what makes you feel good. The bottom line is to enjoy the performance. If you are engaged with the music, the audience will share the emotions of the performance!




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