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The Practice Doctor

Video: Vibrato in Slow Motion

Preparing for a performance or audition:
How to manage performance anxiety

Practice/Motivation Tips for Parents

Practice Tips for Students

Vibrato in Slow Motion

Here's close-up look at the hand and finger motion in vibrato, first at normal speed and then slowed down by a factor of four. What do you notice in the slow motion versions that you didn't notice at normal speed?

Preparing for a performance or audition:
How to manage performance anxiety

by Robin VanDyke Dubay

Recognize that it is natural to feel nervous about a performance; the nerves reveal that you care about performing well. There are many ways to cope with the nerves and even use them to make your performance more exciting and compelling. In advance of the performance/audition:

1. Prepare the musical material thoroughly.

2. Learn how to switch from practice mode to performance mode. You must turn off the inner critic when performing and instead become an advocate who can “sell” the music. Make the audience hear what you love about the music.

3. Visualize yourself performing well and getting enjoyment and satisfaction out of performing. Practice this visualization before each of the following performances. It’s also helpful to rehearse positive phrases such as “I am calm, well-prepared and eager to perform.”

4. Work up to the performance by staging intermediate performances with gradually increasing stress or pressure - perform for a group of stuffed toys - record yourself (also a very good practice technique) - perform “on demand” by using a timer or alarm clock - perform for family and friends - perform for a teacher or coach.

5. Learn and practice relaxation techniques such as controlled breathing, meditation and yoga. Get regular aerobic exercise.

6. Make a plan for the day of the performance so that you are well-organized, well-nourished and at the performance site with plenty of time to set up and warm up.

7. Get a good night’s sleep before performance day. Practicing deep relaxation (breathing deeply and fully and then relaxing one body area at a time, working from the feet to the head) helps to prepare the body and mind for a good rest.

The day of the performance, follow through with your advance plan. Use the relaxation techniques that work best for you. Practice positive visualization once more. When it is time to perform, focus on the music. Sing it in your head as you play; share it with your audience. After the performance, congratulate yourself for following through. Refrain from criticizing or second-guessing (however, it’s okay to make notes on what you might do differently next time.) If your performance was recorded it’s best to wait a few days or a week before listening to it. Reward yourself for giving your best to the performance.

Sources: Greene, Don. Performance Success. New York, New York: Routledge (2002). Dunkel, Stuart Edward. The Audition Process. Stuyvesant, NY: Pendragon Press (1989).

Practice Tips for Students

Source: Itzhak Perlman, paraphrased

Practice/Motivation Tips for Parents

Source: Cynthia Scott, Suzuki instructor par excellence