Here are some more tips to help you score high in your next audition or music festival where you are playing in front of a judge. Some of these are also covered in the general tips I posted before, and here they are again, explained in more detail. I have highlighted the things I see people forget the most often, so please make sure you actually practice doing them!
• Stage presence – walk to the piano, turn around, make eye contact with the audience, smile, bow slowly, then go sit down on the piano bench.
• Do not play right away after you sit down. Must adjust the bench. 90% of the time it is not at the right distance for you. Sit on the front half of the bench. You need to have enough room to move your body forward for expression. If you can not move the bench because it is too heavy, ask for help. If you need the pedal extender and it is not there, ask for it.
• You should now put your foot on the pedal to see if you can reach it. Make sure you find the correct pedal! I have seen some of you use the wrong pedal before so please do not assume you know where it is. You should press the pedal down a few times to get a feel of the pedal to see if it is tighter and harder to press down than you expected. If you need both pedals, then both feet should try. (If your piece does not need pedaling at all, you can ignore this tip, and you should put your feet just in front of the pedals, and they should remain flat on the floor during your performance – do not tuck your feet under the piano bench.)
• Once you are sure the bench is at the right place for you and that you can reach the pedals comfortably, put your hands on your lap and just think about your music for a few seconds. (Don’t put your hands on the piano keys and wait for a long time. You should wait a little bit, but your hands should be on your lap while you wait and think.) When you are ready to play, put your fingers on the starting notes of your piece. You should play your piece soon, but first you must “show” when you are going to start by lifting the hand that has the melody, as if you are the conductor giving the “ready” gesture.
As you are playing your piece, remember:
• Listen to your sound – are you projecting? Can people hear you? Are you too soft that the notes are not sounding when you play them? Are you too loud? Is the balance between right hand and left hand good? In classical sonatinas/ sonatas, left hand is often accompanying right hand melody and should be softer, unless it has something important to say. When the left hand does have the melody or something important, make sure the right hand is now softer.
• If you are pedaling, are the pedal changes clean? Do you have blurry sound? Are you making a clunky noise when you change pedal? Never lift your heel off the floor when you pedal!
• Are you doing the rests in the music? Are you lifting your hand up from the wrist when you show the rests?
• Do you have enough dynamic contrasts? Are they clear? • Do you have expression? Are you responding to the music? Are you leaning forward when you play something important? Does your body language look different when you play something different?
• Do not make faces/noises when you make a mistake. Keep playing. Don’t stop. Don’t try to fix your mistakes. If you forget where you are, just go from the nearest place you do remember.
• When you have finished playing your piece, do not suddenly stand up. Bring your hands back to your lap, slowly stand up, turn around, smile, make eye contact with the audience, bow again, then go back to your seat.
From now until the audition, you should:
• Practice very slowly every now and then.
• Practice difficult sections by themselves.
• Practice difficult passages hands separately.
• Practice with your music (actually looking at the music when you play) to consolidate your memory.
• Practice your piece from various landmark points, such as the beginning of a new section or an important phrase.
• Practice with the metronome to check steadiness of tempo.
• Practice performing your piece to other people, or record yourself and watch back.
• Make sure you absolutely nail the beginning and ending of your piece! No matter what happens in the middle, you should start and end perfectly!