A music performance can be stressful, especially for first-timers. You’ve worked hard on learning (or maybe even writing) your favorite song, but performing it for other people may feel intimidating if you’ve only ever made music around your family.

You’re not alone! Everyone gets stage fright—even your teachers still get nerves sometimes. But there are a few tricks you can use to prepare for a performance and play or sing your best.

The weeks before a performance

When you’re getting ready to perform a song in front of an audience, you need to change the way you practice. Many students will diligently stop and start over or rework a trouble spot when they make a mistake in a song. That’s a very effective way to correct a note or chord you tend to miss or play incorrectly, but when you’re on stage, the best thing to do with a mistake is to just keep going.

You should still take the time to go through trouble spots more than other parts of the song, but when you sit down to play or sing the whole song through, commit to doing it the way you would on-stage. Think of it as “performing” the song versus “practicing” it.

Remember, if you slip-up, it’s okay. The show must go on, and most people won’t even notice you made a mistake if you put on a brave face and just keep going.

Once you’ve performed your song a few times on your own, invite your family to sit down and listen. They’ll be the ones cheering you on at your performance. Once you feel comfortable performing for this small group of people, performing for a larger crowd will seem much less daunting.

Day of the event

You’re almost there! By now, you should feel comfortable performing your song all the way through, and even if you slip up here and there, you know to just keep going. You shouldn’t really need to “practice” your song anymore—but you should “perform” it for yourself and your family a few extra times.

It’s important to take care of yourself on the day of your performance. Make sure you’ve gotten plenty of sleep the night before. Eat well-rounded meals to keep your energy up, and most importantly, drink plenty of water (especially if you’re singing)!

If you start to feel anxious at home or while you’re waiting your turn at the event, try this breathing exercise:

Slowly breathe in while you count to three in your head, hold your breath while you count to three again, and then slowly breathe out for another three count. Keep breathing like this until you feel your body relax.

Remember: this is your night. The people who really want to hear you—your friends and your family—are there to support you, no matter what happens. Give them the best you’ve got, and they’ll love whatever you play or sing for them.

While you perform

You’re done with the hard part! Now it’s time to have some fun. All those weeks (or maybe even months) of practice are finally paying off.

Take a few deep breaths before you begin. Think about how you want to start your song, and when you feel ready, dive in! If you feel like you started too slow or too fast, that’s okay. Try not to change your tempo too much once you’ve started—it’s best just to stick with it.

Make sure you aren’t holding your breath while you perform. Keep breathing nice and steady so you don’t get lightheaded.

If you make a mistake, keep going. If you’re playing or singing from memory and you forgot where you were, jump to the next part of the song you remember. If you can’t do that, just go back to the start! It will be okay.

When you finish your song, don’t just run off the stage. Take a minute to look at all the people who came out to hear you and give them a big smile. You might feel shy or embarrassed but it’s worth it to feel all the love and support from your family and friends as they applaud your performance.

Performing can be one of the scariest parts of being a musician, but it’s also the most rewarding. Music is meant to be shared, and you’ll be giving everyone a beautiful gift by sharing your music with them.

Happy New Year! We’re proud of everything our students achieved in 2018. Some of you wrote your own songs, some of you performed for your first audience, and some of you took the bold step of picking up an instrument for the very first time.

Whether you’re a returning student or you just joined Musician Makers this year, the new year is a time for celebration and for setting new goals.

It can be difficult to set your own goals as a music student or as a parent. You know how far you’ve come, but you may not know what to strive for next. We want to help you be your best this year, so feel free to pick a few goals off of our list below. You can even print it out and stick it on your fridge or by your practice area as a daily reminder!

Goals for Music Students

  • Set “practice time”: To make the most of your lessons, you need to set a reasonable and consistent amount of “practice time” each week. Just 15 minutes of practice a day can really help. Find a chunk of time you can consistently devote to piano – maybe right before bed or first thing in the morning – and stick to it. If you know your weekends are always crazy, just practice during the week.

  • Go outside your comfort zone: Trying a new kind of music can be really fun, and it helps strengthen your technical skills. If you’re used to pop, try a more traditional, classical piece or writing your own song. If you know you want to try something new but you’re not sure how, ask your teacher to help you branch out.

  • Ask questions: Ask questions when your teacher introduces a new idea. Even if you think you understand everything they’re saying, you can ask questions to make sure that you’ve got it right. Some things in music just “are”—a C key or string will always be C, not any other letter—but it never hurts to ask “why?” either.

  • Think about what you want: Your teacher wants to see you get better, but it’s also very important to us that you’re enjoying music and having fun. Tell us when you have a song you really want to learn, or if there’s a musician you want to learn to play like, or if you just want to do something different.

  • Keep a practice journal: This could be as simple as making a list of your songs and checking them off each time you practice. You can also write down questions to ask your teacher later or take notes about your practice—like how you finally nailed that scale or riff you’ve been struggling with.

Goals for Parents

  • Ask for a concert: Encourage your kids to give you a concert and play what they’re working on. Some kids will be shy about playing songs for their parents while others will want to share everything they ever learn. Even if they’re too shy to play for you, they’ll appreciate that you asked and are staying involved.

  • Check-in with your kids’ music teacher: One of the best ways to support your child is to keep up with what they’re learning. Kids get a very limited amount of time with their teacher each week, and it’s easy to get confused or forgetful about practice. Talk to their teacher regularly and don’t be afraid to ask if there’s anything specific you should be watching for or reminding your student to do.

  • Ask questions: Ask what they’re learning and what they’re enjoying about music. It’s important to do this even if you’re checking in with the teacher as well. A kid that’s too shy to tell their teacher that they’re confused or that they would rather be working on a different song might open up to you, and then you can help them communicate better with their teacher.

  • Help kids make time: A lot of kids have to juggle music lessons with school, sports, clubs, family travel, church, or other obligations. If your kid has a packed schedule, they may struggle to carve out practice time on their own. Sit down with your student and help them make a plan for practicing. Make sure they pick a time to practice that’s not too hectic, and support them by keeping that time slot free every day.

  • Enjoy music together: Musician Makers teaches kids how to make music, but appreciating and listening to music is just as important. Share your favorite songs with your kids, sing along with them in the car, and help them learn about and listen to different genres. Getting them excited about music as an experience may encourage them to do their own song writing or inspire them to play more advanced songs.

It’s important to take a moment and think about what you really want out of an education in music. I hope these goals and any others you set on your own will inspire and guide your music practice through the new year.

- Kate Lewis

You’ve got your instrument picked out, lessons have started, and now you have books full of a foreign language full of letters and music notes. What do you do next?! Practice. Practicing is key to succeeding at music.

The only way to master your instrument is to practice! But it can be a real drag sometimes, I know that. Taking time away from things that are fun to sit down and practice something that is new and hard isn’t anyone’s favorite part of learning music.

But, that doesn’t mean that it’s not worth it! Practicing is always worth it. When you sit down with your instrument and play a scale or a song all the way through, you will feel so accomplished. When you open your music book and you can read what it says, you will be ten times more confident. It will pay off in the long run.

Here are five tips to help you stay motivated to practice, and to help you become a successful musician.

Tip #1: Find a good practice spot. Make sure you can sit comfortably and focus without distractions.

Tip #2: Take it slow and be patient. Rushing will only lead to frustration. If you take your time, you can learn to do it right the first time, and avoid making bad habits.

Tip #3: If you make a mistake, take a note and try to correct it.

If you can’t figure it out, make a note to ask your teacher and practice something else.

Tip #4: Practice multiple times. Always play a chord, scale, or song multiple times once you have it right. This creates muscle memory, which will make it easier to remember in the future.

Tip #5: Play for fun, too! Make sure to include songs and exercises that you find fun and enjoyable in your practice routine. Music is supposed to be fun after all!

These tips are meant to help you or your student find joy in playing music and not get exhausted by it. Our goal at Musician Makers is always to make music fun any way that we can. If you find that learning your instrument is frustrating or you’re losing motivation, try the tips above and ask your teacher for some fresh activities and exercises.

We want to know what helps you stay committed to practicing. Comment below to let us know you’re best practicing tips, and we’d love to include them in our next post!