Ready to Perform?
How many of you out there are in University, music college or conservatorium of music? And at the terrifying stage of performing in front of teachers and your peers? Have you noticed how few people get up and perform a piece they’ve been working on, and it always seems to be the same people?
The fact is, most students are at the same place you are - scared, petrified, frozen at the thought of getting up there and exposing their vulnerability. BUT, as performers this is what we do on a regular basis, so it is extremely wise for you to dive in, ‘shaking in your boots’ and all, and get up and perform whenever the opportunity arises: not only in performance prac’ classes, but anywhere.
Whether you are a 3rd, 2nd or especially a 1st year student, being brave and getting onto that stage is a HUGE step that MUST be taken for your growth to take root and your journey, into the potential magnificence you contain, to begin. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking, “Oh, it’s okay, I’ll do it when I am better at performing and have more confidence”,
and when might that be? Will hiding in the back of the class build your confidence?
NEVER GONNA HAPPEN!
Ask your teachers if they can help you find places you can perform your new and/or well-rehearsed pieces. Maybe there is a student faculty that arranges concerts from time to time, put your hand up and say ‘I’m in’. Or perhaps there are lunch-time concerts that give you the chance to work with other people and pianists. Whilst communicating your musical intentions with a new pianist can be challenging, it’s a crucial skill for performers. Why not find a student pianist who is happy to run through repertoire, or even perform with you? This benefits you both.
I have seen it happen quite a few times; a performer who has not only left memorising most things to the last minute, but has never performed them in front of anyone else or even tried to put emotion into the works. They end up looking like petrified rabbits. No emotion, no movement and sometimes even forgetting words and melody or losing where they are in the music. Not a performing experience I would wish for anyone.
Is this what you want yourself? Of course not! So how do we remedy these problems?
Practice! Practice, practice, practice and more practice! But this is far more than just learning your pieces. Confidence in performance comes from practicing performance.
If leaping straight up in performance class is too intimidating at first, practise small steps:
1. Perform to a mirror – without stopping or distraction
2. Video yourself – a tool we all loathe but one that is extremely helpful and revealing
3. Sing to friends and family
4. Go and perform at a retirement village – you will be getting valuable practice and giving a great gift at the same time
5. Offer to perform for school or church fetes
6. And yes! Then get up and perform in class at every opportunity. Go first! Don’t wait to feel brave, courage comes with practice! There’s that word again!
If you do ALL this, then you may or may not be perfect in your presentation of your work but you will definitely be a lot closer to realising your full potential, and feel a whole lot better about your performance. Remember, your talent is your gift, and gifts are meant to be SHARED!
Universities, conservatoriums or performance colleges are the right environment for you to gain this trial and error experience. It is a safe and necessary part of your induction into the professional world of singing/performing/dancing/acting, whayever it is you’re doing, so USE it as much as you can get out of it. NOW is your chance to gain all the essential basics and some from ‘professionals in the business’ whilst you are trying to learn.