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Setting Yourself Up for a Great Recital

Recital time is here again, and we’re so excited to see our students perform and show off all of their hard work! There’s nothing else quite like student recitals. They hold invaluable experiences for all who participate! Whenever there’s a performance however, nerves and stage fright are sure to follow at some point or another. How can you set yourself up as best as possible for a great, fun performance, in spite of those nerves? We’ve got some helpful ideas for you below, so take a moment to read up and get ready for an awesome recital!

The best foundation for any performance is PRACTICE!

A great performance is nearly impossible without putting enough practice time in. No matter your skill level, taking the time to practice is essential. Make sure you know how to play every aspect of your piece even better than you think you’ll need to. Once nerves kick in, you usually start relying more on the muscle memory you’ve built over time than something you learned last minute, so try to plan ahead for that. Strive to go further than you think you’ll need with your piece to make sure that you still have a strong foundation even if you don’t do as well as your best practice session. If you’ve already learned your notes, try memorizing them too! If you’re memorized, don’t forget to add expression and emotion to your piece.

A good test to see if you’ve prepared enough is to try to play your piece 5-10 times in a row without making a mistake. If you do make a mistake, start the count over and try again, or practice your trouble spot and then make another attempt later on. This is a great way to solidify your muscle memory, and also to confirm that you have practiced enough to do really well! Being as prepared as possible and knowing you have a solid foundation from your practice will give you the confidence you need to have a more worry-free performance.

Try doing a few practice performances with small audiences before the recital.

Do you have parents, siblings, extended family members or friends that would be willing to listen to you practice? Have them be your sample audience and try performing your piece (or pieces!) in front of them a few times just like you would for the recital. This can help settle some of the nerves that can come with performing something for the very first time in front of a larger audience! Starting with a more low-stakes performance like this can be a big step in giving you the peace of mind that your piece is performance-ready. If there are things that don’t go so well in your practice performance, even that’s still helpful - now you know what needs some more attention before the real deal!

Simulate what you might feel during the performance to learn how to work around it.

When you get stage fright, it also affects your body in some ways, not just your mind. Your heart rate is likely to go up, and it can be harder to take deep, calming breaths. To help prepare yourself to do well in spite of that, try out some creative methods for simulating how you might feel during the performance so that you have already experienced it and can come up with some ways to help beforehand. For example, try doing jumping jacks for 30 seconds and then immediately playing your piece to get a feel for what it would be like. Or, try going for a run and follow that immediately with some breathing exercises to help yourself learn how to catch your breath more easily! It might seem silly, but helping prepare your body as well as your mind for performing is a great way to help yourself stay calm through stage fright since playing or singing your piece with shorter breaths and a faster heart beat won’t be a brand new experience on stage, and you’ll already know what to do to feel better.

Don’t forget to warm up!

It’s always a good idea to not have the first time you’ve played your instrument or sung for the day be your performance. Take the time to intentionally warm up for your recital! This isn’t the moment to make last minute changes or practice for three hours straight, but making sure you’ve played or sung a little that day and feel fresh and ready to go is really important.

Take a moment to think through the non-musical aspects of your performance.

When preparing for a performance, part of your nerves can come from just feeling like you don’t know what to expect from the situation, especially if it’s your first recital ever! The unknown is always a little scary. Taking a moment to think through all of the aspects of the recital ahead of time can help alleviate some of this fear by giving you confidence that you have already made a plan and will know exactly what to do when it's time. Come to the recital a few minutes early to get familiar with the space and plan how you’ll walk up to the stage. Check the program and see what order you are performing in to make sure you aren’t surprised when you get announced. Don’t forget to plan on taking a bow before and after you perform too!

Finally, trust in your own ability and don’t worry too much about making mistakes.

Everyone makes mistakes sometimes, even professionals! After all of your hard work and preparation, at some point it will be time to just relax, take a deep breath, and do your best. No one will be coming to the recitals to judge you or point out flaws. We are all there to just celebrate you, support you, and to have a good time! In the end, people won’t walk away thinking about your mistakes. They’ll just remember a wonderful experience that has built good memories to last a lifetime, and we hope the same for you!

Do you have a question that we didn’t get to answer? Leave us a comment below!


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