10 Tips for a Top Performance

Tip #1

Favor the left hand. Your ear tends to memorized the right hand part so challenge your brain to memorize the left hand alone to guarantee rock-solid memorization.

Tip #2

Avoid the automatic pilot button. Start at six different places besides the beginning so that you create new memory markers. This will provide landing places if your memory slips and you need to jump ahead.

Tip #3

Schedule mock performances. Invite a parent, a sibling or even a stuffed animal to sit and listen to you. This pseudo performance environment will encourage you to play your best.


Tip #4

Map out the peaks and valleys. Place triangles throughout your score indicating where climaxes are in each phrase and section. Place the largest triangle or Pikes Peak where the climax of the piece occurs.Remember to follow this dynamic landscape map as you play.

Tip #5

Add chord symbols. By identifying chords and writing in their symbols your brain can remember things in groups and patterns instead of individual notes.

Tip #6

Smile for the camera. Record a video of your work so you can hear immediate and honest feedback. Listen for what could be better and record again. Take note of all improvements and record again to make it even better.

Tip #7

Train for a marathon. Even though you only get one chance to perform a piece at an event, practice performing it at home three times in a row to build your concentration.

Tip #8

Narrow your focus. Play through the entire piece and listen for ONE element throughout, like crispy staccatos, contrasting dynamics, softening the ends of all phrases, balance between hands, etc.


Tip #9

Test the fashion runway. Avoid high heels, jeans, leggings and flip flops. Practice pedaling, playing and bowing in your performance attire before the actual even.

Tip #10

Rehearse the five P’s of performing. Make the five P’s part of your performance every time you practice.


Check the bench: If it’s too close or too far, stand up and move it to the position that allows for your feet to remain flat on the floor and within a close range of the pedal if needed.

Look for the pedal: It’s SO frustrating when half way through a performance you realize you’re pressing the wrong pedal. Feel free to tip your head to locate the damper pedal with your eyes. Never assume the ball of your foot will find the correct pedal by itself.


Locate the correct keys: Use middle C as a marker to help locate the correct placement of hands.

Check in with the minds ear: Imagining the sound of the beginning of the piece will help you set the correct tempo.


Get in the zone: Beginning a performance with these first two “P’s” should help you feel at ease and remain confident on the bench despite the pressure of the performance. In addition, this is a good time to remember to get yourself into the “zone”.


Smile: Playing a musical instrument is an achievement. Performing on a musical instrument in front of others is a major feat that should make you beam with pride. This is not the time for a stern face or even a show of disappointment despite a possible less than perfect performance. Forgive yourself of any biffs and enjoy YOUR moment.


Take a bow: It’s a natural response for an audience to show appreciation for a performance with applause. Be ready to receive your glowing support by being polite and acknowledging the applause with a bow.


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