My dress rehearsal for my undergraduate junior recital is coming up, and I’ve been preparing myself to make the best use of the time that I will have onstage before the night of the performance. Here are some quick tips and helpful things I’ve been thinking about regarding this part of the recital process:
1. Have a trusted colleague listening at the back of the hall
Here’s a simple one that also tends to be easy to forget. If you’re performing in a hall, what you’re hearing on stage is not exactly what the audience is going to hear. Having someone at the back of the hall whose opinion you trust listen to your dress rehearsal will be super helpful- they can notify you of balance issues between you and the pianist (if you’re playing accompanied repertoire) and let you know where more clarity is needed (for example, in the middle or lower register of your instrument). Cleaning up things like this makes for a more polished recital, and allows your audience to fully experience your performance.
2. Run everything, and record it.
I only have an hour for my dress rehearsal in the performance space, and a little less than an hour of music, so I will make sure I am fully tuned and warmed up beforehand so I can use every minute. I will be recording my entire dress rehearsal so that I can listen back whilst looking at my score and mark the spots that I want to improve. Taking note of these things helps me to feel more prepared because then I know what I need to work on in the time between my dress rehearsal and my recital. Mine are a week apart, so I’ll have a healthy amount of time to work through some things. I am also going to make sure that I play everything on my program in order to simulate the recital experience as closely as possible. This helps you get a sense of the pacing of your program, and how to get into performance mode where you have no choice but to continue, instead of going back and correcting an error like you would in practice. I also allow myself to get a little nervous and make mistakes so that I get them out of my system, and so I can practice calming myself down in a lower pressure situation than my actual recital. If it were to happen in performance, I would have done my best to know what it might feel like and be ready to respond.
3. Trust yourself
I firmly believe that this is the most important one. For me, trusting in my preparation and in the work that I’ve put in simplifies the performance process, no matter how nervous I am. I also find that repeating an affirmation, either mentally or quietly to yourself, right before I perform, helps ground me into the moment, which better prepares me to present what I’ve been working on. Because that’s really what a recital is all about: sharing with your colleagues, your friends and family, your teacher, and yourself, what you’ve learnt this year! That might sound like a lot of pressure, and in a sense it is, but I like to view it as an opportunity. I also find that after something I’m nervous about, I usually say “that wasn’t so bad!”, which can be pretty frustrating after I’ve spent all this energy worrying about it before it happened. So, why not strive for engaging in the trusting presence of every moment, trusting that you’re doing your best?