Saturday, October 27, 2007

Run the Program

One of the most important things to do when preparing for a recital, RCM/NMCP exam, competition, festival, or audition is to run your program before performing it. Most of us spend our practice time working on sections of a work and practicing the difficult bits over and over again. But as we get closer to the performance, it is necessary to put things back together and get a sense of what it is is like to perform everything on the program, in order, and as close as we can get to full battle conditions.

Performers often find that works that seemed easy in the practice room often are more difficult when placed in the program, especially when they are near the end and fatigue sets in. Here is a possible road map for running works and programs in the lead-up to a full recital:

1. Run each piece regularly. I've already written about how to take your performance for a test drive--every day on individual works within the recital. Doing this will give you a good head start for recital preparation.

2. Around two months to six weeks before the recital, be able to perform multi-movement works (or song groups for singers). Practicing transitions between songs and movements is also an important element of preparation. Do you take a long time? A short time? Attacca?

3. One month before the recital, be prepared to do a dry run of the entire program. Being able to run a program a full month before the real thing will alert you to further development that is needed in order to integrate each work into the whole. Skip this step and you might find yourself at the dress rehearsal a few nights before the show unable to get through a program because you didn't work on developing enough stamina. Once you've run the program this far in advance, you can then work on fine-tuning for a full month and feel the confidence that comes with detailed musical preparation done well ahead of schedule.

There is no substitute for walking on stage for a recital feeling fully prepared and in command of the works on the program.

Next: Developing an Artistic Sensibility

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