9 Things You Must Do in Every Performance to Play Your Best

Think right - play right

Music requires great skill. There’s no getting round the fact that it takes long hours of practice to hone your craft.

But music also needs confidence and focus.

I’m not going to claim that changing your thinking will magically transform you into one of the all-time greats. If your technique is flawed, then it’s still going to hold you back.

But technique is only half the story if you want to achieve the levels you’re capable of.

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How To See Your Mistakes From Another Perspective – Literally

Turn your view of mistakes around

How does it feel when you make a mistake in performance?

You look out at that sea of silent faces. They’re judging you, waiting to see what mistake you’ll make next. Maybe they’re slightly disappointed – but they’re not surprised.

It’s easy to feel this way – most musicians do – but that’s really not how it works at all…

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The Secret To Remaining Calm in The Face Of Disaster

It’s every musician’s worst nightmare. Something has gone horribly wrong.

Maybe a string has snapped on your guitar. Maybe there’s a complete train wreck – the tune you’re playing falls apart totally and irreparably. Maybe one of the band members hasn’t shown up.

Or maybe they’ve shown up in such a bad state that they don’t belong anywhere near a stage.

Something beyond your control has messed everything up and there’s nothing you can do to fix it now. So how do you respond?

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Do You Play Better In Practice Than Performance? These 7 Reasons Explain Why

Ditch the frustration that comes with playing better in practice than performance by learning to play your best when it counts

Stop me if this sounds familiar.

You’ve basically got it covered in the practice room. It’s not that everything’s perfect, but you’re reasonably happy with where you are, and you can see yourself making consistent progress.

When you get up on stage to perform, though, it’s a different story.

Things which sounded inspired just a day or two before come out sounding dull. Material that you had mastered becomes shaky, or even falls apart altogether.

And the most frustrating thing is that there doesn’t seem to be any reason why this happens. So what can you do about it?

Well, there are at least 7 things which can contribute to the problem. In this article I’m going to tell you what they are and how you can tackle them.

Here's what we're going to cover:

  1. You're not used to playing in a performance context
  2. You're not comfortable with the feeling of pressure that performance can bring
  3. You're stuck in a practice mindset
  4. You resent the conditions rather than accept them
  5. You're trying too hard
  6. You care too much
  7. You need to strengthen your self-belief and think positively

Read moreDo You Play Better In Practice Than Performance? These 7 Reasons Explain Why

Set Out On the Quest for Music Performance Nirvana

The performance is about to begin.

In a few minutes, I’ll step onto the stage with nothing between me and the audience. I’ll be put to the test.

All my hard work, all my practice is suddenly in the past now. I can’t go back and revisit any problem areas. There is only this present moment.

Somehow, though, things are different this time.

The journey that I’ve been through – the new perspective that I’ve discovered and accepted has changed me.

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Start Each Performance Like a Pro

Do you find that you start every performance physically relaxed, completely in control and full of confidence? That the notes just come out effortlessly, exactly the way you want them to? That you’re completely focused on the music, without any worries or distractions tugging at your mind?

That’s the goal, but so few of us actually achieve it.

And it turns out that a lot of the secret is not about those first few notes, but the moments immediately BEFORE we start playing.

Read moreStart Each Performance Like a Pro

Stop Taking Your Practice Mindset onto the Stage

You’ve worked so hard on how you practice. Got the process streamlined and efficient to maximise your learning.

All your exercises are laser-focused on what you want to improve. You can get into that practice mode effortlessly, spot any imperfections straight away, and immediately calculate what you need to do to fix them.

But did you realise that every step you take that improves your practice could be dragging your performance down?

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Is Your Definition of Success Condemning You to Unnecessary Worry and Doubt?

Have you ever given what you thought was a terrible performance only to come off the stage and have people telling you they thought you played brilliantly? That they really enjoyed it.

It left you confused.

That new material you’d spent ages working on didn’t come out right in your solo. Or maybe you’re thinking of that glaring mistake you made in a part that you should be able to play easily.

How could they not see how bad it was?

Read moreIs Your Definition of Success Condemning You to Unnecessary Worry and Doubt?

Stop Letting Your Fear of Mistakes Lead to Mediocre Performances

Everything’s going so well – the music’s flowing and it’s a joy to be playing. Then, suddenly – it happens.

Out of nowhere, you mess something up.

You’re thrown rudely out of the present moment and your mind gets stuck in the past.

On that mistake.

All the earlier enjoyment is gone in an instant. More mistakes follow as your mind is unsettled and distracted.

Read moreStop Letting Your Fear of Mistakes Lead to Mediocre Performances

The Power of Focus

Have you ever had a gig where you found it easy to lose yourself in the music? Maybe it was just a short section of one tune. Concentration was effortless. External distractions faded into the background. Self-criticism and self-doubt were strangely absent as your focus was entirely on the music.

How did you feel that performance went? How much did you enjoy it?

Chances are that your answers are very positive in both cases.

Read moreThe Power of Focus

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