Defeating The Performance Time Boogie Man

So, you’re sitting at the BIG black monster – uh, piano – in front of a crowd of people. You’re playing your piece, and suddenly your brain goes on strike and you don’t know what notes to play. YIKES!!!

Most musicians have had this happen before, but what to do? These episodes seem to linger in ¬†our performance memories for years and can be quite traumatic. I can still remember forgetting my piano piece in my second piano recital at age 6. It was so awful that my teacher had to finish the song for me! Well, piano students around the world need not fear this happening to them any longer. If during practice a certain phrase constantly escapes your student’s memory, this is a clue that some precautions must be put in place at performance time to combat any possible brain strike.

That’s where the blocks come in! One of my very young students was having trouble remembering the “fa la la la la” phrase in Deck the Halls. So, in a last-minute moment of inspiration, I grabbed some letter blocks and used them to spell out the notes of the phrase. We used them each time during the lessons leading to the performance so my student could get used to them being there. At the performance, the blocks were great because you couldn’t see them over the book stand like you would a book. My student was able to relax knowing that if he couldn’t remember his notes they were right there in front of him and the audience didn’t even know!

What precautions do you take to combat the inevitable performance time boogie man’s sabotage efforts?