What Makes a Performance Great?

Performance on Stage

Performing on stage can be a terrifying experience. I remember reading a quote of one pianist who said that “you always get very nervous, you just get used to it after time”. If you’re questioning whether or not to perform, here’s some things to think about. First, make sure you have good technique on your piece. Secondly, don’t forget that you will survive even if you mess up! The world will keep turning and you’ll get another chance to perform again. This in turn will hopefully build your confidence up! While we are bound to concentrate on proper technique during a practice session or a performance, there are other elements to executing music on stage. Stage presence plays an important role when bringing your performance to a higher level of artistry. It’s what captivates an audience and can add an extra spark of excitement. Here are a few ideas to incorporate next time you’re on stage:

1. Fit the character of the piece: Is your piece sad? Then look sad! Is it happy? Then look happy! Whether you realize it or not, you have to be a bit of an actor to really convey the entire meaning of your piece (especially when it comes to singing). There are of course performers who are an exception to this rule, but on the whole, I believe that in most great performances you will see great expression of emotions. Not only this but it makes your audience more comfortable to connect with what you’re playing. Try studying some of your favorite performers by YouTube-ing live performances of them. Record yourself to see how you look, and remember to take this idea with a grain of salt – overdo it and it may look a little too silly! 

2. Be in the moment: Nerves can easily destroy a good performance, which is why it’s important to silence the worrisome voice that constantly says “What if something goes wrong?!” Remember to have fun playing your piece and to take your time on stage: Don’t rush when you’re walking, take time to do a full bow or two, smile at your audience! They’ll appreciate it, and it may be just the thing to make sure you’re focused on the task at hand. Some artists even meditate before going on stage to focus their minds and emotions on playing properly. Also, if you’re required to speak, make sure you either write what you want to say down or say it out loud a few times beforehand, you’d be surprised at how easy it is to flub up a seemingly easy greeting!

3. Enjoy yourself: This is perhaps the most important and hardest suggestion to pull off. If you don’t look like you’re having fun, you’re audience probably won’t either. Now, don’t confuse this with needing to smile all the time on stage. Everyone gets into their performance in their own way. For myself I know a lot of people say I look angry on stage but I’m actually having a good time! BUT, after my performance people will say that I was really into it, so the audience definitely acknowledges and appreciates someone who can enjoy themselves while performing.


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