How to prepare for your first recital: 4 easy tips

November 3, 2015

Playing a musical instrument is a rewarding activity, and performing for others can be a joyful, exhilarating experience. But, your first recital in front of an audience can be nerve-wracking.

Luckily, these four easy preparation tips can help you keep anxiety at bay. These tips can also help your child prepare for her first time playing for an audience.

How to prepare for your first recital: 4 easy tips

1. Set goals

It helps to set goals for your playing to give focus to your recital preparations.

First, decide what kind of piece you would like to play for your performance. Choosing a piece that you love will give you incentive to practise more often, and your teacher will be able to help you choose something challenging yet doable in the time available before your performance.

Work with your teacher to break your chosen piece down into parts, and set short-term goals to help you along the way.

For example, if you're playing a sonatina with three movements, it makes sense to spend a month learning each movement, and a week or two to put them all together. Giving yourself some deadlines or benchmarks along the way like these will help to focus your practise on being ready for your performance.

2. Practice with mindfulness

To help combat the jitters when it's time to perform, add a dose of mindfulness to your regular practise routine.

Each time you sit down to play, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Visualize a circle around you that contains only you and your instrument, and imagine playing your piece calmly and well.

Taking a moment to prepare for your practise like this will help you eliminate distractions and get the most out of your time. Once this relaxed state of awareness becomes a habit, it will help you to ignore the distraction of the audience and minimize your nerves during your recital.

3. Build muscle memory

In the week leading up to your recital, practise your piece about ten times per day. This repetition builds muscle memory that is an important part of being prepared to play for an audience.

Even if you are nervous when you're at your recital, you'll have played the piece so many times that your hands will know what to do on their own — almost without you thinking about it.

The best way to build in this amount of repetition is to play your piece once or twice every time you walk past your instrument. This method will help spread your practise over the course of the day, which is more effective at building muscle memory than one long work session.

4. Try a casual dress rehearsal

It's a good idea to perform your piece for a sympathetic audience before the big day. So, ask a family member or a couple of friends to listen to you play your piece.

Make this performance as much like a mini-recital as you can: sit down at your instrument, open your music, take a moment to focus, and play it through without stopping or talking. This low-pressure performance will help you build your confidence for your recital.

Put these four easy tips into practice to help you prepare for your recital. Following them can help you become familiar with the piece you'll be playing and confident in front of a crowd — two things that will put you at ease at your recital.

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