Preparation for Live Performances

A live performance in front of an audience is exciting and exhilarating. Whether you’re performing in a recital or a contest or for a music school audition, it can be a nerve-rattling experience. It’s also an extremely important step in a musician’s development and with a little guidance, you can change your approach to practicing and playing to ensure that your performance will be successful.

Preparation for Your Live Performance

First, make sure you know the requirements, expectations and etiquette for your live performance, as they will likely be different for every performance. Make sure you are clear on what is permitted and what is expected of you. Don’t wait until the last minute to get this information — be proactive! If you are not clear about any of the requirements or expectations, ask questions. The last thing you want is to spend heaps of time preparing the wrong piece of music.

Goal Setting

After you’ve discovered the requirements and expectations for your performance and have selected your pieces, sit down with your calendar and create some time-based goals. For example, write down the progress you’d like to see in a week, in a month, in a semester, etc. and mark those dates on your calendar. This will help to keep you on track.


Staying motivated can be difficult for many people, especially if you are working on a project by yourself. Finding ways to create accountability is extremely important to avoid pitfalls like procrastination, cutting corners or simply getting down on yourself. The best way to create accountability for your work is to meet with a teacher or mentor regularly. Of course, this is also great dress rehearsal for your performance, too. 

Using social media is a great way to create accountability. Sharing weekly updates on your progress with friends, family and colleagues is an excellent idea.

Finding Your Zen Before Your Live Performance

You’ve identified the requirements and expectations, you’ve carefully selected your performance material, diligently practiced and prepared, and now the big day is finally here and your nerves are in high-gear. Here are a few ideas that can hep you relax and stay focused. 

1. Breathe. 

Spend some time taking slow, steady breaths. Clear your mind. Focus only on the moment you are in. Allow yourself to be fully present. Repeat this mantra: cool head, warm heart. 

2. Be kind to yourself

Remember — it’s only music. There will always be someone better than you, and there will always be someone worse than you. You may pass the audition, or you may not — either way, it’s not the end of the world. If you have prepared and performed to the best of your ability, you should happily accept the outcome and do your best to learn from the experience. 

3. Don’t dwell on it. 

It’s likely this won’t be your only public performance. Regardless of the outcome, you will have become a better musician in the process of preparing for the performance — be grateful for that and set your sights on your next opportunity. 

Learn to play what YOU like to hear.

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