Preparing For Performance Success

Preparing students for a performance or an exam is a lengthy process. From setting goals and establishing a purpose to preparing students for the unexpected, there’s much to consider.

Preparing For Performance Success

Preparing students for a performance or an exam is a lengthy process. From setting goals and establishing a purpose to preparing students for the unexpected, there’s much to consider.

Table Of Contents:

  1. Preparing For Success
  2. Preparing For The Performance Day
  3. Understanding The Assessment
  4. Practicing For Performance Success
  5. Extra Help

Preparing For Success

Whether you’re preparing your students for a performance, a competition, or an exam, you want to help them achieve the best possible outcome.

This means discussing the following areas with them:

  • Goals and purpose. What do they want to get out of the performance? Why is it important to them? What do you want to achieve from the performance?
  • Attitude. Are they going into the performance with the correct attitude? Are they looking forward to the experience or are they too fixated on getting things ‘perfect’?
  • Overview of the performance. What can they expect from the experience? How will it help them with their musical journey?
  • Common errors. Are they aware of what could go wrong and how to respond?

Related: 5 Ways To Help Your Students Feel Performance-Ready

Whether you're preparing your students for a performance, a competition, or an exam, you want to help them achieve the best possible outcome

Preparing For The Performance Day

When the day of the performance arrives, you want your students to feel confident and ready.

To prepare them for this, talk to them about:

  • How to prepare for the unexpected. Do they know how to recover from any mistakes? Have you reassured them that errors are not the end of the world and they won’t be the only person to make them?
  • What to do before the day. The days leading up to the performance are important. Remind your students to practice performing and record themselves to listen back to become self-aware. Is their music organized? Do they know where everything is? Ensure that they know the importance of not staying up late and eating junk food before the day of the performance!
  • What to do on the day. Do they know what to wear to dress appropriately for the performance? Have you shown them how to warm up intelligently, both physically and mentally?
  • In the room. Do they know how to act confident? Are they prepared to adapt to any situation? Have they practiced their poker face in case something goes wrong? Are they aware of the importance of enjoying the performance?
learning the piece is just the beginning of preparing your student for performance success

Understanding The Assessment

If your students are preparing for an exam, learning the pieces, scales, and exercises is just one of many steps.

Share with your students the following areas:

  • Grading descriptors. Do they understand the requirements for the different grade boundaries?
  • Syllabus objectives. Have you explained the reasons why they’ve learned certain things? Do they see the bigger picture?
  • Examiners are human. Discuss with them that different examiners have different priorities and will listen out for different things.
  • Realistic expectations. Of course, it would be amazing if every student received top marks, but are your students aware of the realistic expectations?
things to discuss when preparing for a performance

Practicing For Performance Success

Selecting and learning the piece/s is just the beginning of preparing your students for performance success.

To ensure your student feels confident for their performance, discuss with them:

  • How to manage anxiety. Performing in front of an audience or an examiner is a daunting experience. Do they have strategies to help them feel calm?
  • Practicing the last 5%. Many students focus on the beginning of pieces and getting things correct from the start. Does your student know the importance of focusing on the last 5% of the piece and finishing confidently and musically?
  • Managing parents. Are your students’ parents on board with how to help their child practice for the performance? Have you helped them set realistic expectations for their child?
  • The four dimensions of expression. Your students know the notes and the rhythm, but are they playing expressively and showcasing their musical connection?

Related: 5 Strategies for Overcoming Performance Anxiety

Extra Help

If helping your students prepare for performances or exams leaves you feeling stressed and panicked, we’ve got something for you: an innovative 4-part online training series for teachers focussing on performance and exam preparation skills.

Join Hilary Travers and Tim Topham early 2024 as they discuss tips and tricks for exam and performance success.

Tim Topham

Tim Topham is the founder and director of TopMusic. Tim hosts the popular Integrated Music Teaching Podcast, blogs regularly at staging.topmusic.co and speaks at local and international conferences on topics such as integrated teaching, creativity, business, marketing and entrepreneurship. Tim has been featured in American Music Teacher, The Piano Teacher Magazine, California Music Teacher and EPTA Piano Professional. Tim holds an MBA in Educational Leadership, BMus, DipEd and AMusA.

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