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Preparing for a Competition: Mental and Technical Tips

Preparing for a major competition can be stressful and overwhelming. In this article, I discuss some tips for staying mentally and physically in shape during the months leading up to such nerve-racking events. Some topics include practice routines, self-recording, the efficacy of run-throughs, and ways to manage performance anxiety. In particular, I suggest productive methods of handling large amounts of repertoire in a limited amount of time, two kinds of recordings techniques to monitor progress, psychophysical productivity of run-throughs, and the benefits of a positive and open-hearted disposition during a competition. I encourage readers to interpret studies in performance anxiety with a critical eye, especially because “success” is difficult to measure in classical music. Achieving balance is a constant theme in all aspects of preparation. The value of patience, self-trust, mentors and friends, and enjoyment is stressed. I also advocate for having interests outside of music and prioritizing personal growth rather than competitive result. Finally, I offer some personal thoughts on my experience in the 2019 Queen Elisabeth Competition. The mental and technical process of preparing for a competition can vary widely from person to person — here I offer a few universally applicable suggestions.
competition tips

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