How to Evaluate Your Performance Readiness

Why Performance Is Different from Practice

Performance ReadinessMany of my students come to their lessons prepared, but do not play very well. They tell me that their last run-through in the practice room went without a hitch, but as soon as they come in for their lesson, they get rattled somehow and never play at their best.

I can think of three possible reasons why a musician can play well by herself, but not in lessons or recitals:

  1. Not learning the music well to begin with

  2. Not practicing flexibility and adaptability

  3. Practicing the music but not how to succeed while under pressure

The second and third of these shortcomings are likely where these students are failing in the practice room. Despite my frequent urging, some of my students have trouble modifying their practice room behavior and curbing their lazy practicing habits. Only limited gains can come from running through your music and stopping to fix problems as they arise, without an overarching practice strategy.

Practicing Your Music Performance Skills

A substantial part of your practicing, especially in the last few weeks leading up to a recital or audition, needs to be devoted to practicing performance skills. Recovering from slip-ups, adapting to different performing conditions, controlling performance jitters, and playing for a critical audience are all skills that can be practiced.

Knowing the music really well is only part of the battle. Very little time in the traditional music studio is devoted to developing ironclad performance skills independent of the repertoire to be performed. There are some other resources that provide some guidance on mentally preparing for performance conditions. Gerald Klickstein, for example, gives us a helpful questionnaire:

This is a good instrument for self-reflection, but seeing your shortcomings does not equate to being able to remedy them. What specific actions can you take to improve your performance skills? My e-book provides practice techniques and tools for developing a recipe for your personal success on stage. Sign up now so that you don’t miss the chance to obtain this resource:

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Robert Kelley

About Robert Kelley

Robert Kelley is a music theorist, composer, pianist, harpsichordist, and Associate Professor of Music at Lander University, in Greenwood, South Carolina.
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