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Queen Guitar Rhapsodies

Pass Your Exams and Play Well In Concert

Carlos in Maidstone dressing room just before playing the Aranjuez Concerto October 2012

Make it happen now with this time plan

Whether you are sitting an exam or giving a concert, preparation and attitude are what make all the difference between success and failure. As far as preparation no artist in the history of exams and public performance has ever excelled without knowing the music thoroughly, and as far as attitude the only way to play really well is with a positive one. Maybe we can all agree upon those two statements! If so, we need to investigate them further and consider the requirements needed for each.

In a previous article Playing in public: three steps to playing without nerves I wrote about the negative and positive voices inside our heads and how to overcome those negative feelings with three positive steps for being able to perform in public:

Preparation, self-belief and attitude start way before your public event so here is a rough chronological check-list which may be useful to you:

9 – 12 months to go
The preparation for your exam or public performance should start nine or twelve months before the event. The first vital step after making your decision and establishing a date is choosing your pieces. Choose not the pieces you dream of playing but the ones you think you could play well. Create a contrasted programme of style and difficulty. Listen to performances of the pieces by different artists. Research the music editions if there is a choice available (particularly of arrangements).

6 months to go
Look for opportunities to play your pieces in public. Book your appearances several months ahead now.

3 months to go
All your pieces should be close to ready by now.
Play to your friends and family, not just once but frequently. Explain why you are doing so. Frequent performances are an important pre-requisite for feeling familiar and confident with the pieces, and also show you where there are still weak links and passages.
Welcome comments and advice from your listeners.
Play the same pieces in your events and stick to them. There is nothing wrong with this: professional musicians do it all the time.

3 weeks to go
Try to create various more playing events even if it means rounding up your long-suffering family and friends.

2 weeks to go
Plenty of slow practise.
Play all of your recital or exam pieces, every day if possible. Play the set of pieces in the same sequence as the event.

1 week to go
Same as last week plus:
Avoid stressful situations and people. Get plenty of sleep.

1 day to go
If you feel nervous say to yourself: "I have done everything I know to prepare well for this event, there is no reason why I should not play my best.”

The day itself
If it is an exam or audition aim to get there various hours before your call-time. If the journey takes an hour allow for things to go wrong (public transport delays, motorway jams) and allow for three hours.
Do whatever makes you feel good. I love eating apple pie and cream before my concert, it gives me a great buzz, so that is what I try to do every time!
Stay calm. Don’t hurry.

And…oh yes, good luck. Not that you will need it, for if you have followed all the previous steps you will be perfectly prepared.

24th February 2013, London

Previous blogs I have referred to:

Playing in public: three steps to playing without nerves

Preparing For My Concerts With Just One Day To Go

No, I won’t stand on my head : things I do and don’t do on the day of a concert

For a complete index to my blogs click here

Printed from: http://www.carlosbonell.com/blog/?p=2243 .
© 2019.

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