That’s it! The day is here. The long awaited day when you can perform in front of people what you have prepared. The instruments are set up on stage, the audience is slowly pouring into the room and the time is clicking.
You, you have practiced. You know your stuff inside and out. You are not stressed, you had a good night sleep, you didn’t argue with nobody. And yet… Yet, you don’t feel completely ready.
Because you need to warm up.
Warming up entails doing a few exercises related or not to your performance in order to get those music muscles nimble and strong. So, you grab a pair of sticks or you sit down a the piano that is tucked away backstage and you are ready to play something.
And so, what should you do?
I recommend always, whatever you go for, to start slowly. Very slowly. Force the notes to come a snail pace, the heartbeat to calm down. And try to concentrate on one note at a time, forming them, shaping them, carving them from a beautiful fabric. This will help your focus. You have to appreciate music, first and foremost.
Then, you speed up. Gradually, the tempo increases. But still while searching for the perfect sound, for the easy relationship between you and the instrument. Don’t allow the fingers to get sloppy. Your kingdom is music, never forget that! As you get fast, don’t try to push your limits either. Now is not the time! Stay in a comfortable area of your playing. Re-learn to enjoy the motion, the touch, the unique sound you have on your instrument. Chances are, you will rarely push your limits once you are on stage. That is, again, if you have prepared your concert. You should know what you are supposed to do. The warm-up is just a way to rediscover why you love music. Because that is what people come to feel: the fire that burns within you for this art.
Then stop the warm-up. It shouldn’t be too long. 5, 10 minutes maximum. After that, if you play with other musicians, go talk to them, spend a little time in their company, appreciate the pleasant banter, the light latest news, the easy jokes. The band will only have each other to push against the crowd, to communicate the emotions of the songs. They will be your most precious allies. And people come to see that special bond you guys share. Actors have understood that very well. Before a play, they have all sorts of routine to flex their companionship muscles. They want to present a united front. Musicians, all too often, overlook that. But I think it should part of a warm-up.