Performing should be the goal for all musicians.  Though practicing and learning new music can be rewarding, there is little point in putting in all that hard work if you’re not going to play with other musicians–and hopefully in front of an audience.

 There is an easy-to-use 3-step process that will get you ready for any performance.  This process breaks down your preparation into Practice, Rehearsal, and Performance.  Each step has its own set of rules that helps you be as prepared as possible when you step on stage.

Let’s take a look at the details:

 The Practice Phase

Practicing is what you do by yourself.  Your job during the Practice phase is to make sure you can play all the notes.  You are basically learning your part by working out the technical details of all the difficult areas in the music. 

There is a lot of repetition in the Practice phase as you play very slowly through specific sections of your music.  You must teach your muscles the intricacies of the music and work out the kinks so you can play everything flawlessly.

Practice bears very little resemblance to Performance.  During this step in your preparation, you seldom go through your music from beginning to end.  A non-musician listening to you could easily think you have lost your mind as you play through a two-bar section 10 or 20 times, slowly raising the tempo on your metronome.

The Rehearsal Phase

The Rehearsal phase is like practicing for an ensemble.  You will get together with your fellow musicians and go over the music you will perform.  Much like the Practice stage, little time should be spent going through the music from start to finish.

Instead, specific phrases and sections will need to be perfected.  Transitions, starting new sections, and holding notes for endings are areas that always need special levels of concentration during the Rehearsal step.

There will be disagreements on how loud to play certain areas and how to articulate specific notes.  Differences of opinion among the musicians will need to be worked out.  Everyone must agree on how the music should be played if you want your performance to be the best possible.

To have successful rehearsals, it is important that each individual musician has already practiced their part by themselves–before the rehearsal.  The Practice phase must be completed for the Rehearsal phase to be worthwhile.

The Performance Phase

The Performance step is not your actual performance on stage.  This is preparation for the actual performance and takes the form of a mock performance.

A mock performance can happen while you are alone (during the Practice phase) or with the rest of your group (during a Rehearsal).  Either way, you must commit to a real runthrough of the music.  The Performance phase is the time to go through your piece from start to finish.  In the Performance step you will never stop playing–no matter what happens.

In your performance preparation, you must put yourself mentally into the same framework you will be in on stage.  Picture yourself in front of an audience and feel what it will be like to communicate your music to them.

You will make different decisions if you know there is no possible way you can stop playing.  You will pay less attention to a missed note or a weak entrance.  Instead, the whole group will try to stay together at all times and keep the performance going.

Know the Difference Between the Three Steps

Make sure you know which stage you are in at all times.  Though it seems obvious, there are plenty of musicians who go immediately to the Performance step when they should be in the Practice phase.

They start their practicing with run-throughs of the music, stopping to make quick fixes along the way.  Basically, practicing this way prepares you to make mistakes during real performances. 

Other musicians skip mock performances in their practicing and in their rehearsals.  They wait to actually be on stage before they do a real run-through of their material.  This preparation method can also lead to inferior performances because the musicians aren’t truly ready to be in front of an audience.

If you are clear on which step you are doing–Practice, Rehearsal, or Performance–you will feel more confident, waste less time, and have a more fulfilling time on stage.

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