Updated: Dec 8, 2021
If you haven't read it previously, I will recommend you reading Part One of 'How Piano-Yoga® can help you overcome stage fright' where I talk in detail on what preparations one needs to do before the performance, whether it is a concert or an exam. However once you have done all the ground work, you need to move to the following stage which should be done at least one week before the actual performance date.
One of the reasons students perform well at home but completely lose it on stage, is because they do not have enough time to gather their thoughts. In this case, I recommend using the following formula:
By tempo I mean students should think about in which tempo a piece should be played and try to 'play it' in their heads before performing the piece. If they have taken on the advice from Part One of ''How Piano-Yoga® can help you overcome stage fright'', they should find it easy to imagine the character of the piece. As the actor needs to transform himself before playing a particular role, a musician needs to get into the mood, into the character of the music before playing. This is why I encourage students to play the piece in their heads, so they can establish the right tempo and character, just before they play in public. My advice: give yourself 2 - 3 'empty bars' getting into the tempo-rhythm of the music, then play a phrase in your head and only then, start playing on the piano.
There are also often known cases of students who, when starting a piece, find their right foot on the wrong pedal. This creates confusion and a physiological setback when they start the piece. Sometimes they need to start again! Therefore making sure that your right foot is positioned on the right pedal before you start playing, is very important.
Hence I call this formula TCP - standing for 'Tempo, Character and Pedal'. However I advise to start incorporating this formula into your practice regime at least 1 week before the performance, so it can become a part of your regular performance mindset. It will not be of any use to you if you only start thinking about it (TCP) for the first time when you are on stage. This needs to be practiced. The good news is that If you start incorporating TCP on a regular basis, your body will automatically start thinking 'tempo, character, pedal', and this will allow you to gather your thoughts and correct energy before the performance.
Another problem that people often experience on the stage, is that the first piece they play perfectly, but by the second piece they suddenly 'lose it', or become nervous in the middle of the performance. This usually happens due to a lack of stamina or concentration. Again, the 'tempo, character, pedal' formula should be used before you start each piece, and again, practiced at least 1 week before the performance. Sometimes I would recommend practicing TCP before the beginning of piece 1, then stop. Then pick up the few bars of the piece No 1 at the end and finish it. Then refresh your mind by incorporating TCP before playing the piece No 2. Start and play a few bars of piece No 2. and then continue in the same manner until you go through your whole programme, so you know how to practice the change between each composition.
You should also start playing the whole programme daily at least 7 days ( better 10 days) before the performance as well, whilst using TCP.
So, to sum up, during the performance you should think;
1) Tempo, character, pedal before the beginning of each piece
2) Play the piece
3) Wait, making sure you switch to the mood of the next piece, using the formula TCP, clearing your mind
4) Continue with the next piece
If you practice this regularly, you should have no problem with stamina and nerves while playing the whole program. Remember, you will also have to face some distractions from the audience, such as coughing or someone entering the room. Metaphorically speaking, you will need to be 150% prepared, so that when you lose 50% from a distraction, you will still give a 100% performance.
If you have been playing for an audience for a long time, you might find it harder to perform in front of just one person. I would encourage you to perform to different audiences so that you can build up your stamina for public performances. It would be helpful for you if you have the opportunity to play in different locations and on different pianos. Compared to all other instruments, pianists have to adapt the most. We have to change our touch and peddling, not only because each piano is so different, but also to adjust our playing to the acoustics of the environment.
Of course this skill can only come with practice and experience, and I encourage everyone to have rehearsal time in the performance venue, if you have the opportunity, so that you can gain this experience. Do not be afraid to slightly change the way you play, according to the piano and acoustics.
So, to summarise. I would suggest doing the following at least 1 week before the performance;
1) Incorporate the formula, tempo, character, pedal before playing each piece
2) Play the whole concert on a daily basis, sometimes more than once
3) Play in front of a group of people, or even just one person
4) Try to play on different pianos in different locations
5) Try to get practice time in the venue and adjust your playing according to the environment
What can be done 1 month before the performance recap
I would also continue doing the work that you, hopefully, started doing 1 month before the performance. Providing that you have learned your pieces really well, following my suggestions in Part One, I would encourage you working on your concentration, introducing various simple yoga postures, meditations, engaging on your subconscious through powerful affirmations and using creative visualisations, if you think they help. You also need to make sure your sitting position is comfortbale and well established, and, of course, you need to know your performance pieces very well.
Here are some supporting materials:
Overcoming Stage Fright with Piano-Yoga® - Part One of Three : this article contains practical advice on how to start preparing for your public performance.
Piano-Yoga® 'Transform Your Hands Video Course' in these 36 video episodes you will find many tactics and strategies which offer strategies for enlarging your hand span, as well as establishing controlled piano playing, through yogic, piano and breathing exercises as well as your correct sitting position.
Transform Your Practice: A Complete 11 Stage Guide by GéNIA This is a 4.5 hour video course, which offers practical advice on how to establish efficient piano practice. The course also teaches you how to work on your concentration through simple yogic postures and other exercises.
Enjoy your musical preparations!