That can be a stressful situation.
Whether you have an impending music exam or performance, there are times when there is a lot of pressure to learn.
So, how are you going to deal with that?
Even if you have whole days in which to practice, you can only learn as fast as your brain and muscle processes allow you to learn.
So here’s a few tips which can help you get through (and hopefully succeed) in those times of high pressure.
My situation at the moment is that I have about five new songs to learn for the Band (rehearsing tonight) and a gig on Saturday night which I need to be in top shape for.
I therefore, have to prioritise the learning for the gig because it’s important to me that every public performance I do, I do my best. However, there is an impending gig for the Band and there’s a lot of learning to do there as well!
Your priorities may be different to mine in the same situation. What is important is that you are honest about what is most important to you (not anybody else) and focus on preparing your work in accordance with that.
Sometimes it will be a close call but the work you do for one performance will invariably benefit the other performances too.
2. Practice Other Skills
Yes, you need to practice the pieces you will be playing but it’s also very wise to keep up the technical work, even if you are pressed for time.
This article outlines all the other exercises that are good to practice in order to support a successful performance.
3. Break It Down
When you look at all the activities you have to accomplish in a week, it can seem daunting. You may even feel like you don’t even know where to start, or have the feeling that all those tasks will be impossible to get through.
But when you look at what you have to do day by day, and just try to accomplish those tasks, those tasks seem much more manageable.
The same is true for a stressful music workload.
If you can, look at what you need to accomplish by the end of the week and plan out, day-by-day, using your Practice Diary, what you are going to do to meet those tasks.
Think about how much practice time you will have and plan what you will do in those practice sessions to get the maximum benefit.
A lot of time can be wasted with unplanned and unfocused practice. However, with knowledge and planning on how to practice, you have much more of a chance of meeting your goals.
This article on time management has a great tip in the last video which I use all the time now and it works!
If there is really too much on your plate, there are several ways you can handle it:
- Have a complete meltdown (not recommended!), but if you feel that is going to happen then….
- Be honest, get someone else to do the gig, or shorten the repertoire, or cancel the date.
In other words, try to avoid getting yourself into a situation where you are going to let yourself and/or others down. It’s just much simpler and better to be honest and let others know where you are at.
- Sometimes you may be able to simplify the music and repertoire.
For example, shortening the form, or taking out some movements, or playing songs you already know.
In performance, always take the options you are most confident with.
Ok, well now I’m going to take my own advice and it’s off to the practice room!