You have finally finished that piece … the nightmare of your life, what’s been nagging you for the past two months, every waking hour of your day. Just when you thought you had it down, you walked up to impress your friends, sat down without a warmup…. began to play and BAM! Uh oh. How humiliating. You fell apart in public.
Don’t worry…. many pianists experience a regression phase in which their pieces get worse or begin to fall apart. Mistakes appear from nowhere which leads to frustration and anxiety for the performer. This was not supposed to happen, right?
Actually, there is a reason it happens. Your brain gets bored. You need to wake it up again when you practice, so here are some tips which have helped many of my students to avoid these problems and keep pieces in tip top shape:
P :PRACTICE: To continue practicing only your performance repertoire would not be wise. When boredom sets in it is time to learn new things and to remember why this particular piece of music fascinated you in the beginning. Play your pieces with as much variation as you can and mostly in slow motion to retain the accuracy you have achieved. Play other things too? Yes!!! Begin learning something else so you keep your mental skills sharp.
E : EXPECTATIONS. You have already performed this piece. Make note of the successes and difficulties you experienced during the performance. Did you feel nervous? Did you have trouble focusing on the task at hand? Which parts of the piece surprised you? Did you feel like you conveyed the emotions and story of the piece effectively? Maybe some mental rehearsal time would benefit you for your upcoming event. Be prepared!
A : ADAPT. Effective practicing (practicing Smart not Hard) doesn’t happen when you learn only to play your pieces at a certain tempo, on a certain piano the same way every time. Any number of variables such as time of day, change of sound in the performance room , change in piano touch, bench height, nerves, fatigue, and other unknown variables can have a strong influence on the way you perform this time. Practice NOT TO SOLIDIFY BUT TO BE FLEXIBLE… With tempo, mood, touch, height, time of day, lots of warm ups, no warm ups, an audience, no audience, a video camera, tempo changes, technique, instrument used, etc. Try to desensitize yourself to the unknown be anticipating and recreating those conditions ahead of time ….. You’ll be Glad you DID~!!!!!!!
K : KNOWLEDGE. Is there ANY insight you gained from your last performance that could benefit the future ones? What would those items be? What comments did your teacher offer? The judge? Can you apply this knowledge in the remaining time you have to add a little more personality and final touches to your selections? If you said yes… then you CAN stay at your PEAK and succeed!