Welcome to LivingPianos.com, I’m Robert Estrin. Today I’m going to discuss a musical stress test. What am I talking about? You practice, and practice, and practice, but you wonder if you really know the score. How do you know if you have security with the music? Are you ready for a performance? Are you ready for a lesson? Are you ready to accompany someone? How do you know when you’re ready? You don’t want to wait until the moment of truth comes to find out you weren’t prepared! How can you know? Because as you well know, you can play something by yourself in your home perfectly, and then when you try to play it for somebody else, it goes haywire. What can you do to test things out?
Try playing faster.
There are a lot of things you can do to test yourself. You can try playing things faster to see if you can still hold it together. Because when you get nervous, one of the first things that happens is your physiology speeds up a little bit. Your heart rate, your breathing, all of that speeds up. So guess what happens to your playing? You go faster! You don’t even think you’re going faster. I’ll never forget many, many, years ago, listening to recordings of myself as a child, playing in my dad’s student recitals. I couldn’t believe how fast I was going! I was playing faster than I ever played those pieces! It could be a disaster if you’ve never tried your pieces faster, and the first time it happens is during a performance. I’ve had times where I would keep my fingers crossed hearing my students perform in recitals taking outrageously fast tempos they had never tried before, hoping they had some reserve in their playing.
Another great thing you can do is record yourself.
Psych yourself up like it’s an actual performance. Set up a device, and go through your music and make yourself a little bit nervous. Make yourself feel like you are performing. The key is not to stop! Even if you mess up right at the beginning, keep going. Because that can happen in a performance, and you don’t want to start over. Nobody wants to hear you start over. First of all, it’s as much as announcing to everybody that you’ve messed up. But more than that, it destroys the continuity of the performance for the audience. Speaking of which, there’s no better way to create stress than to play for an audience. If you regularly play for people, play for more people. The more people you play for, the more nervous you’re likely to get. That’s the ultimate stress test. And if you c witanhstand that, then you’re ready for anything.
What I recommend is ratcheting up little by little.
Start with recording for a device. Then play for a family member or a trusted friend. Then play for larger and larger numbers of people until you’re ready for an audience. If you can withstand that and you can withstand playing faster than you usually play, you should be ready for a performance. You can also try playing on different pianos as a musical stress test. Play on a piano you’ve never played and see what happens! Right from the get go, without even trying the piano first, just jump right in. Play on as many pianos as you can. It’s a great way to improve your preparedness, because you can’t take your piano with you. Usually, you have to play whatever piano is wherever you are performing. So playing on as many different instruments as possible is another great way to get ready for your performance. Make sure you’re in the best shape possible to withstand anything in your playing. I hope this is interesting for you! I’m Robert Estrin here at LivingPianos.com, Your Online Piano Resource.
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