Preparing (or helping your student prepare) for recitals

Beyond the day to day work of learning an instrument, here are some extra ways to prepare for a good recital experience! The following are just some quick suggestions for the mechanics of performance practice, for more on performing also check the Performance Anxiety FAQ.

  • Listen and play. Listen to the piece as much as possible- the car can be great place for this! Playing with the recording can also be helpful (and hard)! It isn’t a great tactic for learning a piece, but can be a great challenge for a more polished piece.  
  • Pick a spot. Any spot! Picking random spots to begin in the piece helps make sure the piece is learned “evenly”. This is especially great for testing memorization, but is useful with or without music.
  • Play it through. Play through the piece exactly as it will be performed (without stopping, with repeats, etc.) each practice, to build stamina and to nail down any musical interpretations.
  • Perform. For family, for friends, for a stuffed animal audience. Trying to picture what the actual performance will look and feel like is also helpful.
  • Practice spots. Any difficult measures or “chunks” should be isolated and tackled at the beginning of each practice.
  • Play with a metronome. This is not so much for a steady pulse (but also awesome for that!) as much as to create the same “you must keep going” feeling as occurs in performance. No stopping!
  • Create distractions. Turn the TV, play in a noisy kitchen, play while other music is playing. Try to perform “perfectly” despite the distractions- and don’t get distracted! This can be turned into a game for those that are easily distracted- if a distraction or mistake happens, begin again! Keep it fun, though!
  • Memorize! Memorizing doesn’t mean that performances have to happen without the security of a music stand. However, if a piece is memorized (correctly), that also means that it’s better learned! If it’s not memorized, it’s not learned as well as it could be.