Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Techniques for Recital Preparation

While many begin to prepare for their end of year recitals, it is worth taking a moment to consider practical routines to let the body best facilitate a good performance. Over the last few years I have been experimenting with my diet and daily routines leading up to a big solo concert or audition. Below, you will find a list of different things which I have experimented with and have resulted positively. Understandably, not everything can be done all the time, but I think trying a few of these techniques might be beneficial to anyone's performance preparation.

Go gluten free

At least 72 hours before a performance try cutting out gluten as best as possible. A high gluten intake can greatly pronounce the ebb and flow of energy we experience during the course of the day (highs after meals or snacks, and real drops mid-way between meals). While gluten can pass through your system after about 24 hours, starting three days before the performance allows you time to judge when and how much you need to eat before the concert.

Eat an egg white an hour before the performance

Egg whites contain a number of nutrients including Vitamins B6, B12, D, Selenium, and the minerals Zinc, Iron, and Copper. Eating an egg white will give you enough protein to sustain the energy you'll need for a performance. In my experience, I've not felt a drop in energy level mid-concert when I've eaten an egg before. Generally I would eat a whole hard-boiled egg but I haven't found that eating the yolk has made a noticeable difference over simply eating the white.

Sleep as much as possible the night before

It is asking a lot to try and sleep more than 12 hours, but if your body can take it you might find a small difference in your overall stress level before the show. I've managed to sleep around 15 hours before a big solo recital and I could feel a noticeable benefit.

Take a short nap about 2 hours before

On days where I'm on tour I've often found it hard to get more than 8 hours of sleep. Usually between a sound check and a concert there is a prolonged break. On days where I've made the effort to get to the hotel and take a 30 minute nap I have fared better than on those where I haven't.Though I don't completely drift off during such a short time, forcing myself to take my mind off things can reduce stress.

Whatever happens don't...

Don't ignore your body. When a big audition or performance is coming it is very easy to let our worries get the better of us. Remember that, though you can't control all the variables in a performance, having a mind and body functioning at its highest gives you the most important tool to react well at whatever is thrown at you.

In the physical sense, a musician training for a performance could be looked upon in the same way than as an athlete prepares for a competition. For those interested, it might be worth doing a little reading on the subject of peaking. Though the details described in the linked article aren't of any use to us, conceptually speaking the subject is very relevant.

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