Competition!

October 16, 2016 at 02:55 PM · Hello! I have a competition next Friday, and I would like to get some tips on how to stay calm and not too anxious; I usually get crazy nervous, and sometimes even forget parts. Also, is it recommended to play through it all every single day or is it better to focus on little parts?

Replies (5)

October 16, 2016 at 03:33 PM · I don't do competitions. But I have done many, many job auditions, which is no different in reality (except that what's at stake is whether or not you'll be able to eat and fill up your car or pay rent...). I'm sure you'll get many responses for both nerves ("eat bananas") to practicing.

Some advice I'd give to my own students when they have auditions/competitions coming up:

Preparation

1. Long-range planning. You shouldn't be learning notes the week before. A piece should be memorized and ready to go one or two months out, especially so you can take a break to avoid getting stale.

2. Does cramming work? Yes. But better to not have to.

3. Do both playing through the whole piece and short sections and passages. Both slow and at tempo.

Nerves

1. Play the piece in front of a variety of audiences, including friends, family, teachers, retirement homes, the zoo. The competition should NOT be the first performance. Another reason the piece is ready to go well beforehand and not down to the wire.

2. Be well warmed-up. Don't walz in, take out the instrument and expect to nail everything.

I remember once hearing that Perlman no longer warmed up because after so many years his body simply remembered what it was like to feel warmed up. Might be apocryphal, but the point is that unless you're a seasoned pro, use a warm up routine to help settle nerves. For most people, having a set routine probably helps, like a certain type of scales, or even just a warmup piece you always play, like some Bach. Having that routine can, like meditation, condition your mind to calm down.

October 16, 2016 at 05:15 PM · Take a look at this book.

October 16, 2016 at 06:36 PM · I direct all my students to read "The Inner Game of Music." Excellent resource.

October 17, 2016 at 12:26 AM · My favorite resource for beating nerves and performing your best: The Bulletproof Musician

November 9, 2016 at 08:59 PM · Thank you all so much! My competition went great!!


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