Practice Everywhere to Perform Anywhere

“The key to good performance is excellent preparation.”

As another year’s Christmas recital looms ever nearer and the inevitable performance nerves start to set in, I start looking for more ways to reassure my students that they will certainly survive this harrowing experience to play another day. I stumbled across this interesting tidbit a few days ago and shared it with my students — now I share it with you!

An article I recently read on improving your brain’s performance cited a university’s study from the 1978, in which a group of students were told to study the same material in two different sessions. Half the students spent both sessions studying in the same room while the other half split their study time between two different rooms. When tested on the lesson material, the students who’d studied in multiple environments recalled 53% more material than the students who only studied in one place. (And that was just with TWO study sessions!)

Subsequent studies showed that varying other aspects of the study environment (the time of day, whether you’re sitting or standing, if you’re in a cluttered or tidy room, etc.) also increased memory recall.

The theory is that your brain links whatever it’s learning to the context around it. The more contexts you can link to what you’re learning, the more your brain will have to draw upon when it’s required to recall something.

THE TAKEAWAY: When you’re practicing a piece you intend to perform, I challenge you to vary your practice environment in as many ways possible.

You can try:
Sitting/standing/walking around while playing
Playing in a different room each session
Playing on your front porch (if the weather is semi-pleasant!)
Playing around family and friends
Playing during your lunch break at work, at a park, or during recess at school

Or get creative with stuff like:
Playing in a pitch-black room (betcha never done that before!)
Playing your song very, verrrry slowly. Try playing it very quickly — but remember to only go as fast as accuracy will still allow!
Playing while other music is playing in the background (it’s a brain-twister, for sure!)
Make a video of you playing your recital piece and post it to facebook/instagram/whatever social media site you frequent. (Send me a link if you do this! I wanna see!)

Practice everywhere so you can perform anywhere!
I look forward to hearing about how many creative ways you’ve practiced!