In our last blog post on practice tips, we discussed the importance of consistent practice and listening to music. If you didn’t have a chance to read it, you should check it out here! “Making the Most of Your Music Lessons”
By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.
Preparation is the most crucial part of having a successful performance. This is of course true whether you are going to play Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star or an advanced Concerto.
So some quick and simple tips on how to prepare whether you take piano, guitar, violin or voice lessons:
A) Slooooooooooow practice! I always tell my students about a time, I was visiting friends in Ireland years ago. We were driving out to the west coast, and on the highway there were traffic signs signaling to slow down. The first one said “Slow”, the second one, “Slow”, the third one, “No! Slower” and the fourth, “Dead Slow”. When music students hear, “slow practice”, they don’t often really understand how slow the teacher means. Here are a couple strategies on getting different age groups and levels to slow down:
For younger students who are playing short pieces: you can time them playing the piece or a small section of the piece, and then have them try to play it again in double that amount of time or more. So if I play a short phrase in 10 seconds, then I should try to practice it half the speed, which would take me 20 seconds. The time challenge makes it fun for the younger ones!
For students who are a little more mature, practicing with a metronome can be helpful. While of course it helps with rhythmic acuity, it can also be a great quantitative way of saying what a slow tempo means. (Maybe about 40 bpm depending on the piece)
B) Try to memorize your music! Even if you end up using it in the recital having your music committed to memory really helps one let go. Seeing an amazing musician perform is often like watching someone lost in a dream - they are totally immersed in the music. Of course no one is expecting a young students to get up and play like a professional but just as with giving a speech the closer to memorized it is the better the delivery will be. Visualization is also a really great aid in this for advanced students. Can you imagine how to play the piece without your instrument?
C) Don’t forget the basics! Performance wise: play with good posture, and try not to rush through your piece. Also get a good night's rest the night before and try to practice the day of the recital a little bit.
D) Play for family and friends as much as you can! Help your kids set themselves up for success at this recital by having them play through their piece for you as much as possible. Making it more of an event like playing after a family dinner is also helpful! Everyone should do this at least once before the recital!
Thanks all! We are so excited to see so many great music students perform at the recitals in Mountain View this March!
- Robert Miller, Co-Director, CCM