Practicing vs. Performing

Who hasn’t heard of a horror story performing in a recital? Unfortunately, negative experiences performing are not uncommon.

However, here at Discovery Music Academy, we want to write a different narrative. We want students to have a great experience performing. Therefore, we teach two different skills very intentionally: 1. How to practice to learn a piece. 2. How to practice performing that piece.

With the proper preparation, you can master both skills. But first, we need to understand the difference between practicing and performing.

In practicing you are constantly stopping and fixing and repeating a passage until you get it right. Then, once you get it right, you do it 4-6 more times well to solidify what you just learned. Then you sleep on it two nights in a row for your brain to finish processing what it learned.

In performing there is no stopping, no fixing and absolutely no repeating of anything. Once you start playing, the beat keeps going without interruption. It doesn’t matter if you make a mistake. You keep the beat at all costs, and let the mistake go by.

As you can see the skills needed for practicing are very different than the skills needed for performing. Allow yourself time to learn a piece through practicing. Once you have learned it and can play it well by yourself, transition to performing where you practice keeping going no matter what. Make a mental note of where your mistakes were, and when you’re back at home by yourself, work out those places where you made mistakes. When you are comfortable again, play it in front of someone again.

Keep repeating this process until your performances improve, and you no longer have any places to work on. Allow yourself a minimum of three weeks of practicing performing in front of three different groups of people before performing at a recital. You want to work out the kinks in an informal setting so you have the best chance of a good experience in a more formal setting.

As with learning any kind of new skill, the more you practice performing, the easier it gets. Performing can become a wonderful experience of sharing your music in a mutual exchange with your audience. Believe it or not, it can be an incredibly energizing experience.

If you are learning to play the piano, I encourage you to not only practice, but also learn how to perform. You have a wonderful gift to share. If you would like help getting started, give us a call.

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