I recently wrote about preparing my students for a concert performance and the families who used my tips really improved their playing standard. It was a great success. Some of those tips I believe would translate to other areas of our own adult lives and not just applicable to music either! I think a lot of the tips translate well to public speaking, giving a presentation, preparing children for other events etc.
In that post Concert Preparation I mentioned that I would put together a post on preparing for a solo performance, so here it is!
No matter what age you are or what your interests are, Going Solo can be so daunting. I don’t think even 5% my students parents would swap places with their kids during a concert performance! If I had to give a solo performance right now I would totally keel over!
In my teaching programme my students start really young, like 3 years old, some even younger, and so from a very young age they are performing in concerts. Albeit, their performance might just entail going on stage doing a bow and coming down again!! But hey, they’re getting on up there with not a care in the world, and they don’t even know it’s something to be nervous about. It’s all about bottling that attitude and holding on to it.
In reality, probably 90% of my students are completely happy to get up on the stage now and play something as long as it’s a group performance and Going Solo is completely different. So here are some tips I’ve used with my students that really work; tried and tested for you:
- Choose old material: Something you are completely comfortable with and have known for a long time. A new piece can be disastrous, and I’m speaking from experience there. I’ll never forget the pure mortification of messing up a solo when I was about 12 and my brother made fun of me afterwards! So choose something that you know inside out. Something that is embedded in your memory so even if the nerves get to you your brain can go on autopilot and bring you through it safely!
- Practice the way you want to deliver your performance: Similar to above, if the nerves get to you, you need your baseline or default to be as good as possible so this means practicing with all the style and great tone that you’d like in your performance. I know we definitely don’t do this enough and it really works.
- Practice in the right environment: Try out your performance in front of an audience! Like a mock interview. It puts you in the right frame of mind and gives you the feeling of a performance so you know what to expect.
- Play your chosen piece with the accompaniment: Again, you don’t want any unknown factors in your concert so if there is some other component to your performance you need to have experience with it. I’ve had some unfortunate students do solos without practicing with their accompaniment cd and it really threw them so consider yourself warned!
- Relax: The more you prepare, the better off you are when the time comes to perform and if you can manage to relax and enjoy the experience it’s really wonderful. I haven’t managed to get there yet with my solo playing but in our band I really enjoy getting into it and we always play way better when we’re in performance mode, it’s when the magic happens! Weirdly I can sing or speak in public no problem and can relax and enjoy it but violin or cello solo gets me still. I better take my own advice!