Practice the day before a performance?

Posted In: Performing

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    Nancy Edwards on #241636

    I know some people that don’t believe in playing or practicing at all on the day before a performance. I know others that will practice up to and including the day of the performance. Not just the harp, but other instruments also. Does anyone have any thoughts on one being better than the other? If so, why?

    Elizabeth Volpé Bligh on #241756

    I’m one of those people who likes to practise right up to the performance. But I don’t “cram”. I try to have everything learned far enough in advance that a cold or illness doesn’t cause a catastrophe. As long as you don’t injure yourself or expend all your energy by overdoing it, it can settle your nerves. But everyone is different and should do what works best for them.

    balfour-knight on #241834

    Hi, Nancy and Elizabeth,

    To each his/her own, like you said, but I do not like to practice on the day of the performance. It tends to create more nervousness for me, and I think to myself, “if I don’t know this music already, with all my excessive preparation, I am never going to know it, and I am not going to help myself by sweating over it right now.” This is not to say that I do not warm up before a performance. I do that with some etudes or some other pieces that are NOT on the performance.

    The above applies mainly to my solo performances. If I am playing with other musicians, most of them seem to want to warm up with the performance material right before the performance, which totally goes against what I just said, ha, ha! But again, to each his own!

    Have a great Valentine’s Day, my friends!

    Philippa mcauliffe on #241856

    I perform on piano and harp. I really like to have played in a venue before I perform there – solo or chamber – so I try to arrange a rehearsal a few days before the concert day and always try to play there for around an hour or so earlier in the day. Like Elizabeth it settles my nerves. If possible I want someone siting near the back to see how the quiet bits are sounding (are they audible) and what the contrasts sound like. And check an ensemble’s balance. I would certainly do all the openings and finales and usually a full run through. Harp in a big venue can have problems with pianissimos being too soft. I might “practise” the odd phrase but usually I play through to get a good feel for the piano and the acoustics. I play better if I go out warmed up so where possible I play for at least 20 mins until the point I have to move the harp to its final destination.

    Alison on #241916

    I would keep practicing orchestral excerpts the day before, to keep the memory working, but practising too much for a recital, thinking one can improve seems to freak the nerves and be counterproductive the day before. You do need to be fresh on the day, so it would be better to distract and calm yourself by getting your clothes and car ready.

    Jerusha Amado on #243044

    I prefer to do warm ups and to review small, tricky passages of difficult pieces on the day of the performance. I agree with Balfour; if I don’t know the music thoroughly the days/weeks before the gig, then I likely won’t have it at performance level by cramming a few hours beforehand.

    balfour-knight on #243079

    Thanks Jerusha!

    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #243537

    It is necessary, whenever possible, to practice thoroughly on the day before a performance, and on the day of, preferably in the space in which you are going to perform. You should at least touch on all the notes you are going to play. If it is a piece you have performed many times, you may be secure enough without it. But surprises happen. When you start playing a piece you are used to practicing and suddenly realize you have not played it before, that day, panic can set in and anything can happen. The most important thing is to establish the tempos you want, and to check the projection of the instrument in the room. You can also be surprised by what you hear. In a large space, particularly with a very high ceiling, you will be surprised to find high notes lasting as long as low notes, which can entirely change your timing and phrasing. The whole balance within the instrument can be altered by the space. The room becomes part of the harp. Or you may find the bass projecting far more than the treble, which means you have to lighten up on the left hand. So, even if you know the music, there are other things to check on. You should not have to check on the notes at the last minute. Page turns, yes.

    balfour-knight on #243585

    Just play by memory, Saul!

    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #243723

    Hahaha, very funny.

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