How to Add Pressure to Your Practice

Staying cool under pressure requires practice

Do you remember a time when you had it all sorted in the practice room – but everything fell apart at the gig itself?

Maybe this happens a lot. You always get the material solid in practice – but, somehow, that doesn’t seem to be enough on stage.

And just spending more time practicing doesn’t seem to improve things.

​Fear not ​– ​it might only take a slight tweak in exactly HOW you practice to turn this situation around.

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9 Attitude Tweaks That Hold the Secret to Playing 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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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

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?

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.

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How to Play Better (While Trying Less)

Does this sound at all familiar? You’re up on stage performing something you know you’re capable of playing well. But, tonight, it seems as though it’s not quite there.

You’re hanging on so far, but it feels as though things might fall apart at any point.

You’re not going to let this happen.

You focus harder. You TRY harder. It doesn’t help.

In fact, it’s almost as though it’s making it worse…

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