“I can only play well if…”
I think we all have our own pre-performance rituals, but sometimes it can get a little out of hand (myself included!). Here are some common ones that I relate to. Your comments are appreciated!
“I must eat [pasta] before I play”
Often people have a particular food that they must eat, such as rice, sushi, bananas, chocolate etc. For me, it’s always been a mocha or hot chocolate. Ever since I did a successful audition at Royal Academy of Music after a hot chocolate, I’ve found the need to drink it before every important concert. Somehow the hot milk calms my nerves and the chocolate makes me sound better. I wish I had a less calorific ritual! Conversely, if I drink tea (especially green or mint) or red wine, it makes me sound worse. How about you? What’s your go-to or must-have food/drink before you play?
I’ve seen players apply this like crazy, whereas some say it makes their lips even dryer. I find I need to do a sugar & olive oil scrub once a week to make my lips smoother, especially in winter, when they tend to get chapped. Every night, I apply lip balm to protect my lips from the dry air. But then there are so many choices! These days I find Aloe Vera Vaseline works well (sadly not sponsored!)
How do you protect your lips?
I always do a solid warm up before I play, but try not to do too much, just little and often, mostly to check my sound is alright. I do singing and playing, whistle tones, harmonics and pitch bends to help find my sound. When that doesn’t work, I’ll do some lying down semi-supine (Alexander Technique). It helps get my body aligned and, in turn, makes my sound better.
What about your warm up routine? I’d be interested to hear what people do!
Doing stretches and going for a walk/swim/run are common things to do before playing. It gets the endorphins flowing and distracts one from concert jitters. I often do some stretches and breathing exercises, just working on keeping the air steady and expanding the areas of the body responsible for breathing. Tension goes straight to the breath and airstream.
Quiet vs chit chat
I’m a big fan of silence or having a moment of calm before a concert, but have often played with people that let out all their stress right before the concert, which is frankly a nightmare. Of course, I listen and nod but I’m secretly thinking “It would be nice to hear about this person’s problems after the concert over a drink!”
Let me know your thoughts and findings! This is a topic which fascinates me!