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How to Become a More Confident Musician (By Chris Saponara)

One method for music students to reduce performance anxiety is to do what is called a Practice Performance.  A practice performance is designed to replicate the experience of a musical recital before the actual recital occurs, usually in the weeks leading up to a performance. 

The practice performance can be done in a student's home for hisguitarist performing or her family.  I tell my guitar students to make it as formal as possible, including setting up chairs in the living room, introducing themselves as well as their piece of music, and taking a bow both before and after their performance.  In short, the student should do everything they are expected to do at their actual recital. 

It is usually best to invite a family friend (or friends) with whom the performer is not as familiar, as this will enable the student to be in a more serious state of mind.  If the parent feels that a younger brother or sister will distract the performer during this practice performance these younger siblings may stay in another room, as it is important to reduce negative experiences for our young students.      

The student should remember to work towards performing their piece from beginning to end, without starting over if possible.  The student may also want to identify several points in the piece where he may restart playing should a mistake occur, as this will be another tool to reduce performance anxiety the day of the recital.  If available, a video can be made of the practice performance, so the student may hear the piece and adjust any issues with tempo, phrasing, etc.

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Chris Saponara, Guitar Teacher

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