In the practice room, we generally don’t think twice about the first note, and what we do in the moments right before we begin to play.
But then, on stage, it becomes easy to question or second-guess everything. Making it difficult to get into the music and trust our skills.
So whether it’s a simple breathing routine, imagery-based routine, or more involved combination or sequence of ingredients, it’s important to practice your routine so that it begins to feel like a natural part of the piece itself, rather than a checklist of things you have to remember to do before playing.
For today, see if you can practice getting comfortable with a simple 2-ingredient routine. You could try this in two different ways:
Whenever you start playing a different section of your piece, take a moment to breathe, and hear the first few notes of that passage in your head before playing it.
The idea is to make starting with a routine a habit, so you don’t just dive in without thinking about it in practice, and then suddenly find yourself feeling uncomfortable and wondering how to get into a more optimal headspace on stage.
At the end of the day, take a moment to reflect and internalize what you experienced.
How did starting feel? Was it easier to start off in a more focused place mentally? Did it make you feel a little nervous and remind you how performing can feel? Are you ready to add additional ingredients to your routine?
It probably goes without saying, but pre-performance routines aren’t a quick fix. For many (if not most), it can take a good number of weeks to start getting comfortable with a routine that feels right to you. And it’ll take some practice using your routine in actual pressure situations too, before things start to click and your confidence grows.
But by integrating little tiny bits of this into your daily practice, it’ll start to be ingrained into your playing in a natural, organic way, before you know it. 😁
Let me know how this went in the comments below!