“I don’t say that I never feel fear before a performance,
but I have learned to channel it.”
–Claudio Arrau, pianist (The Musician’s Way, p. 162)
Imagine that you’re arriving at a venue 90 minutes before you’ll perform.
You have to set up the stage, check the lighting and sound, confer with technical staff, warm up, and change clothing.
How do you carry out all of those tasks and still prepare to give an inspired show?
For many musicians, pre-concert demands stifle their creativity and ratchet up their stress levels.
But if we adopt a certain manner, we can channel our energies into making art, even as we carry out backstage chores.
I call this manner Backstage Mode, and it melds five soulful actions.
1. Uphold an Inner Smile
An inner smile fosters positivity and keeps us in touch with our creative selves.
2. Move and Speak Calmly
Even when stage crew rush around or time seems short, we lengthen the spine, release the shoulders, and stay composed.
3. Be Mindful of Your Breath
Smooth abdominal breathing promotes calmness.
4. Minimize Extraneous Speech
Excess chatter distracts us; inner quiet allows the music within us to bubble up.
5. Foster Your Desire to Perform
Throughout our time backstage, we should keep an internal stream of music flowing and anticipate the joy of connecting with listeners.
Pages 162-170 of The Musician’s Way explore diverse backstage techniques that help us to perform at our best.
© 2012 Gerald Klickstein