Tips for music competition success

In last week’s Queensland Eisteddfod my adjudication comments often echoed an email to my students who also faced competitions.

How to prepare for a competition (or concert)

In the warmup room

• SLOW scales, long notes
• Play any tricky bars at HALF speed
• Hand on forehead and slow deep breaths calms excess adrenaline.
• Buzz lips to prevent tension squeaks (clarinet and saxophone).
• Stand against a wall for upright posture.Main illus man head LR
• BREATHE!

In the performance

Walk on with upright posture that says ‘I am the greatest!’
If people clap, bow. Prime friends to clap so you can bow.
If an MC doesn’t do so, introduce your piece in a big clear voice; look at the audience not your music.
Tune to piano/other players. Nod ‘I’m ready.’
Take a moment to poise.
Eye contact – give a clear upbeat in the tempo you really mean.
Play out with a big, round, beautiful tone.

If things go wrong

Expect your pianist to follow you. Rescue with a clear downbeat, eye contact or gesture; also to indicate if you need time for well-chosen breaths.
A glitch, wobbly bow or fluffed note is not doom.
I tell my clarinet students ‘If you squeak, make it a good one!’
KEEP GOING – DON’T STOP.
Think ‘Even though I stuff up I love and respect and appreciate myself!’

Stand out from the crowdSax crop

When many deserve places the adjudicator prays for someone to shine.

Exaggerate dynamics so the adjudicator thinks ‘ah, musical!’ Feel free to add more.

Communicate with listeners—they love that!
Play musically with beautiful tone, and above all…
ENJOY your music! Have fun!

After the last cadence

Bow and acknowledge the pianist.
Smile–whatever happened in performance is your secret.
‘I’m proud of you for learning, practising and polishing, and presenting your pieces. If you gain a place, that’s the icing on a tasty cake.’ 

Book launchBML Cover med

My latest book Burn My Letters launched at Byron Bay Writers Festival on Friday. The Brisbane launch on Saturday 13 August at Queensland Multicultural Centre is ’ticketed’ for space and catering. It’s nearly full house so do reply email if you’d like to come.

My interview on Radio 4EB FM is online for a week. Scroll through to Breakfast with BEMAC; the interview is 21 minutes in.

Books are available with Paypal and at IngramSpark and Mary Ryans bookshops.

Artwork credit: John Harrison

In last week’s Queensland Eisteddfod my adjudication comments often echoed an email to my students who also faced competitions.

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