7 Strategies for a Great Pre-Performance Routine

Do you feel it in the air?  The tension?  The uncertainty?  This is audition season and lots of musicians are beating the pavement laying it all on the line to get into college, graduate school, or win a much coveted spot in a summer music festival or program.    Some are looking for professional positions in chamber groups or orchestras.  There’s nothing like an audition.  You’ve spent all this money traveling to the audition location.  You probably have to spend one or even two nights in a hotel.  All for 10, maybe 15 minutes to show a group of strangers what you have to offer that they can’t live without.  Many times the outcome of the audition is a way to further your education or subsidize that education, but other opportunities hold the possibility of the fulfillment of a life-long dream and a lucrative (or not so lucrative, but exciting)  livelihood.

In order to perform an audition that will allow you to show yourself at your best, you need a great pre-performance routine.  A reliable and effective pre-performance routine allows you to settle into a semblance of normalcy in the all-too-abnormal-feeling world of auditions.  Let’s take a look at seven strategies that can enable you to prepare to meet the challenges you face prior to any performance.

Calm your inner chatter!

  • Be your own best friend
  • Recognize quickly when you are engaging in negative inner chatter
  • Reframe any negative chatter with positive statements from your Confidence Resume or positive affirmations
  • Refocus your mind on the task at hand

Replace pressure-packed expectations!

  • Two-three days prior to the audition, identify any strict or unrealistically high expectations you have
  • Replace these expectations with performance cues or reminders of what it takes for this audition to go well

Take control of your confidence!

  • Review your Confidence Resume one hour prior to the audition
  • Shoot down any last minute doubts you may have

Rehearse your performance!

  • Use mental rehearsal or mental imagery to review the auditionactually perform in your mind in real time
  • Use mental rehearsal to help you rehearse the challenges you might face in the audition and ways you will use to cope

Focus on the process!

  • Keep your mind on preparation during your warm-up (not outcomes!)
  • Know what cues you need to focus on during the audition

Prepare your mind to perform intuitively!

  • Accept your playing or singing without expectation or judgment of right or wrong—let your performing happen!
  • Work to let go of conscious control over correctness
  • Remind yourself that you are prepared and TRUST that preparation!

Embrace the pre-performance butterflies!

  • Interpret “nerves” as excitement—a sign you are ready to perform
  • Embrace the pre-performance butterflies as energy that is helpful to your audition
  • Use the added intensity to help you focus better

Having an effective pre-performance routine allows you to rely on your practice and preparation in a systematic and reliable way so that auditions can be another way to showcase your playing or singing in a way that both you and the audition panel will enjoy.

I would love to hear how your auditions are going/have gone this season.

If you haven’t already, subscribe to my site by checking out the free mp3:   5 Mental Strategies for Peak Performance in Auditions, Competitions, and Concerts.  You will receive a monthly newsletter and tips to keep you performing at peak levels.

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  1. This article was interesting. I particularly like the 7th point about pre-performance butterflies. Reframing often has a powerful positive affect. You must have a CBT back ground :0)


    • Dr. Diana Allan says:

      Yvette, you are very insightful. Yes, “embracing the pre-performance butterflies” by interpreting them as excitement is definitely an example of reframing. Reframing, as well as other CBT techniques, can be very helpful for musicians whether dealing with pre-performance jitters or butterflies or with limiting or irrational beliefs. Thanks for your comment!

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