I’m the sort of person who almost always says “yes” to playing music. Since I was a teenager just starting to play in public, I took just about every playing opportunity that came my way. This was a great strategy for someone who was hoping to become a busy professional musiciian. I learned to play in all kinds of circumstances, with or without adequate preparation time. I met all kinds of people, performed lots of different music and learned how to make it happen when it counted.
I loved filling my time with all that music-making. I still do. But you can have too much of a good thing.
I discovered, sometimes the hard way, that saying “yes” to everything meant effectively saying “no” to other things, important things like preparation, practice, calculus homework and sleep. But because playing the harp was so important to me, I also discovered ways to cope with an overload of music and performing responsibilities.
Our time and energy is not limitless. It takes some careful planning to play the music we want, meet our musical and personal commitments and still enjoy it all. As we start the big push of concerts and performances in these last months of the year, you may find yourself saying “yes” to more oppportunities than you think you can handle. Try using these seven strategies to help you keep all those musical balls in the air and sail through this season with more dazzle and less frazzle.1. Honor your practice time and use it wisely. You won’t be happy if you don’t feel prepared. And this starts with putting regular practice time in your schedule, sticking with your schedule and making your practice as effective and efficient as possible. Not sure how to do that? Read on…
2. Put your pieces in rotation. You probably won’t be able to practice all your music every day in the time you have available. But if you create a rotation schedule, you can still be sure that nothing will fall through the cracks. Important tip: write it down, keep track of what you practice and write down your schedule for your next practice session BEFORE you get up from the harp bench!
3. Decide when a piece is ready for “finish and review” status. Usually a piece will have an initial learning curve, after which it really only needs some “”maintenance and polish”” work to take it across the finish line. Be sure you’re not putting in more time on a piece than it really needs.
4. How good does it need to be? This is the follow-up to the item above. Some pieces, like recital pieces for instance, will need to be very polished. Others, like pieces for background music, don’t have to be finished to perfection. More often than we think, “good enough” is really good enough.
5. Give yourself a weekly “check-in.” Are you keeping to your schedule? Are you on track? Is anything not moving along on schedule? Re-evaluate your practice schedule and rotation if you need to. Checking your progress weekly can save you days of last minute panic and stress.
6. Leave room for “emergencies.” Life happens, and no matter how well we plan, there will be hiccups along the way. If you leave yourself a little wiggle room – an extra week of preparation before a recital, or a day when you can do some extra practice – you can maneuver around the bumps in the road.
7. Say “no.” If you have made your plan, you know exactly how full your plate is. When you are at your limit, stop. Say “no;” say it loud and proud. After all you can have too much of a good thing.
Join me Wednesday, September 30 at 8:00 pm Eastern for a free webinar: Crush the Rush! where I share even more tips and tricks for preparing now to beat the rush of holiday performances. You know it’s coming. Prepare now and have the most enjoyable musical season ever! Just click the button below to register.
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