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How to Perform Better in Front of an Audience

“I played it better at home!!!”

I can’t tell you how many times I have either thought or said those words. It is also something I hear from my students all of the time!

I remember when I was in university. I would have a week where I felt like I had made a huge improvement in my playing. I would go to my lesson thinking how I would wow my teacher… and then it would all fall apart for me. If anything, it sounded like I had not bothered practicing…

Can you relate to this?

Here is the reality… You will almost never play as well in front of other people as you do at home in your practice room.

So, how do we get over this? Well, perform, perform, perform. The more you play in front of other people, the easier it will get. I like to start with a small audience and work up to bigger audiences.

When I was in university, I would gather my friends in my dorm room before recitals and perform for them. When I went to perform for the jury, I was still nervous, but less so because I had already done it once.

Before I auditioned for Symphony NB, I performed all of my audition material for my high school string ensemble. I went to their rehearsal one day and told them I would be playing for them for a change. I played through everything. They assured me that I would get the position, that I sounded great, and that I just needed to not make faces when something went wrong. (Really good advice by the way). I was again still nervous at my audition and did not play as well as I do at home by myself, but certainly played better than I would have if I hadn’t played for my students.

I have known friends who performed at retirement homes leading up to music festivals as well.

So, how do you play well in front of other people? Here are a few tricks I use:

  1. Practice a lot so that you are playing as well as possible.
  2. Accept the fact that you are likely not going to play as well in front of other people. This allows you to not beat yourself up if/when something goes wrong, and move forward.
  3. Perform often! Play for small groups of people, play for people who love you and support you, and work your way up to auditions, competitions, and bigger performances!

Let me know if you have any tricks to play better in front of other people!

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