How do you prepare for a performance? - Preparing for a performance

Discuss the joys and pratfalls of performance

Postby Stretto » Sun Feb 12, 2006 10:50 am

What steps do you take in preparing your repertoire for a performance?

How far in advance do you start preparing? What is the ideal amount of time you feel necessary to prepare your repertoire? One month? Three months? One year? Two weeks?

At what point do you feel confident that your repertoire is performance ready?
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Postby Beckywy » Sun Feb 12, 2006 1:21 pm

Depends on the difficulty of the piece. Advance pieces, 8 months to a year for 3 pieces. If I've played them before, 3-4 months to bring them back again. This is practicing 2-3 hours a day.
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Postby Dr. Bill Leland » Mon Feb 13, 2006 8:14 am

Don't expect any piece to go perfectly the very first time you play it in public; it will go much more comfortably after a few performances.

That's why, when most students or teachers don't get to play in recital very often, I always urge them to perform for each other, for family, for friends, cook up a mini-concert of your own, etc., before an actual open recital. Nothing helps more than this. The most conscientious preparation in the world can go down the drain under the stress of public performance--you have to get used to carrying on straight through the piece no matter what.

Dr. Bill.
Technique is 90 per cent from the neck up.
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Postby pianoannie » Mon Feb 13, 2006 11:58 am

I totally agree with you Dr. Bill. And it is very nice to have you back with us.

Stretto, you asked, "At what point do you feel confident that your repertoire is performance ready?" For me, it's when I can get through the entire piece every time I play it at home, with no major or noticeable slips. But, what I can do at home is not the same as what I can do in a performance (as Dr Bill pointed out). It reminds me of the Olympic skaters I've been watching. They know, we know, their coaches know, the audience knows---that the skaters KNOW their routines and are ready to compete. But no one knows when an unexpected slip is going to happen, and you just have to be ready to recover as quickly and inconspicuously as possible!
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Postby Tranquillo » Mon Jun 02, 2008 11:52 pm

How far in advance do you start preparing? What is the ideal amount of time you feel necessary to prepare your repertoire? One month? Three months? One year? Two weeks?
Depends on the difficulty of the piece. Advance pieces, 8 months to a year for 3 pieces. If I've played them before, 3-4 months to bring them back again. This is practicing 2-3 hours a day.

Yes I agree, depending on the level of difficulty the time would vary. How long I generally take is: 2-4 months ...

Repertoire at my standard - 2-5 months ...
Repertoire slightly above my standard - 5 months - a year
Repertoire below my standard - a few hours - 1 month

They are just rough guidelines ...

As far as how I prepare varies as well... but if I was to put a list of steps on it ... this is what I often do.

1. I would LEARN the piece, the melody, harmony, form, duration and phrasing. Once I have FAMILIARIZED myself with the piece/ song I would PLAY/SING through it several times to get the feel of the piece .... I also like to GET AWAY from the piano at times and READ about the piece and get an understanding for the composer and what happened in the composers life in relation to the piece. I enjoy RESEARCH particually in the inspiration and the real 'meaning' that the composer wishes to convey through the melody. Through this I get a grasp for the emotions and I am able to empathize with the composer and music more easily. I also appreciate and enjoy the piece to a further degree when I take the time to look into the piece.

2. From here, I would INTERPRET and be EXPERIMENTAL. Sometimes I would stick to the dynamic markings and phrasing but other times I would get experimental exaggerating dynamics and speed markings. By doing this I not only am I familiarizing myself to a further degree but I am able to hear different tone colors and hence pick which I think best suits what I am trying to portray in the piece.

>> If I can find a recording or hear someone else play I would often listen. I don't think I copy other people's interpretation, I think I really get an insight and see what good piano playing is. I can see how other people play and articulate particular phrases and parts of the piece. Hence, I am being exposed to more ideas. I also like to listen to other pieces of the same composer or musical form to understand stylistic features as well as genre.

3. If I was working in an ensemble (which I often do) I would begin working now. I like to be open to the ideas that other members of the ensemble has and I learn a lot on the different ways to 'shade' the melody and harmony ... how to phrase and how to achieve balance so that no one is overtaken of too loud. Working on the communication and knowing where to come in as well as following the performer is something that I also learn.

4. At this stage, I would give off "mini performances" .... small groups or exchange performances for other students. Any small dinner group or if a friend had a few minutes I would allocate and appoint time to "practice perform", having an abundance of music instructors at my school I would seek the guidance and advise on how I can better my performance. I find when doing this different instructors offer different insights into differing areas so it is very interesting! :) ... through these "practice performances" I would also perform under different situations - home, school, hall, stage, outdoors etc.

5. NOW the big day, the spotlight beams ... ! PERFORM!

Stretto, you asked, "At what point do you feel confident that your repertoire is performance ready?" For me, it's when I can get through the entire piece every time I play it at home, with no major or noticeable slips. But, what I can do at home is not the same as what I can do in a performance (as Dr Bill pointed out). It reminds me of the Olympic skaters I've been watching. They know, we know, their coaches know, the audience knows---that the skaters KNOW their routines and are ready to compete. But no one knows when an unexpected slip is going to happen, and you just have to be ready to recover as quickly and inconspicuously as possible!


For me, I think its a matter of experience. I "count" a piece as part of my repertoire once I have performed it ... In saying that I feel readiness happens after a few "mini performances" and I feel comfortable knowing the piece back to front that I can recite it and go through it phrase by phrase from memory.
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