It’s a little ironic that at the time of year when we most want our music to help set the holiday mood in the performances we play, we are also at our most over-worked and are least likely to play our best.
Holiday performances are fun, but there are so many in so short a time, that it’s easy to feel underprepared and over-stressed.
With a few simple tactics, however, you can prevent the holiday struggle and bring out the sparkle!
- Over-prepare now to counteract stress and fatigue. If you know you have some challenging music to play during the season, double up on your practice now. Don’t count on having time to practice later; as the holidays get closer, it gets harder to find practice time. If you put in the effort now, you won’t have to worry when the time crunch hits. You won’t only FEEL prepared; you will BE prepared.
- Don’t bring out your hardest or least familiar repertoire. Resist the temptation to play that fabulous and fabulously difficult carol arrangement, especially for a Christmas Eve midnight mass. Stick to your tried and true favorites. When you have to play at midnight by candlelight, you will be grateful to play something you know and play well.
- Take care of yourself. This should be a no-brainer, but somehow we always think we can be superheroes. We tell ourselves. “It’s only for a couple of weeks,” or “I can sleep Christmas day.” Is that really how you want to spend your holiday? I remember working so much one year that I came home from my last Christmas eve service and couldn’t do anything but lie flat on the floor until my back relaxed. Pace yourself. Eat properly. Get enough sleep and exercise. Schedule a massage. And in cold weather, don’t forget the hand lotion!
- Remember to bring your holiday mood. Your listeners are counting on YOU to help put THEM in a holiday mood, so you had better bring it with you. You may only be providing background music, but if you are yawning or wearing your grumpy face because you had trouble finding a parking place, you aren’t providing the happy holiday background you were hired to contribute to. The funny thing about that is that if you make an effort to show your party face to the world, some of that party mood will sneak inside you too, and you will find yourself having an enjoyable time. What was it that song said – put on a happy face?
- Wear something sparkly. There is no better time of year to dazzle the crowd, so go for it!