50 tips for imroving a performance 2

This post is going to be a loooong one! But I make no apologies for it. I have found that this list of tips to improve a performance has been an invaluable way to help my students through their “block”. So listed below are 50 tips to use, they are listed under each of the 6 Concepts of Music, plus there are some tips for stage skills. Don’t forget to like the post if you find it helpful!


  1. Ensure that you have the correct tuning for the piece that you will perform, get in the habit of checking your tuning before every piece you play
  2. Rehearse technical scales every day!!!!
  3. Play scales and warm up exercises before you rehearse your pieces
  4. Know the key that you are performing in
  5. Make sure that the melody is always easily heard in the piece
  6. Be careful with phrasing—use the phrasing to your advantage, is it where you take a breath/bow differently/change performance technique?
  7. Make sure you sustain the end note of phrases for their full value and try adding something to colour the note—vibrato? dynamic?
  8. Repeated notes in a melody should always be treated differently—think about how you can achieve this—dynamics, length of note change, staccato/legato?
  9. Pay attention to the moments when there are changes in pitch in your piece– this may be an opportunity to change tempo? Dynamics? Texture?
  10. Know your accompanying music inside out and back to front—make a recording of the ensemble without your part and rehearse with it
  11. Be careful about the balance between melody and accompaniment
  12. Ensure that all parts of the ensemble are at the same standard as you

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  1. Find the tempo that is right for you, when you find it record yourself playing it so you can refer back to it
  2. Make sure that every rhythmic motive is played consistently throughout your performance
  3. Rehearse pieces that rhythmically challenge you to help you improve your technical skills
  4. Try using rubato in a piece, if works keep it , if doesn’t that’s ok too
  5. Make decisions about where in your piece you need a definite and string beat, and in other sections it could be more subtle or smooth



  1. When performing in a homophonic texture the rule is—melody strongest, bass line clear and the other instruments slightly quieter
  2. If performing a polyphonic texture, the main part at it’s introduction should be the loudest and clearest
  3. Think about ways to vary your texture—should there be changes in the number of layers? Could there be changes of the roles of the instruments performing?
  4. Ensure you have a very clear and definite order of instrument entry in the piece—you need to be the leader and should take charge of the ensemble

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Dynamics & Expressive Techniques

  1. Always exaggerate dynamic contrast in a piece—try not to stay at the same level all the way through the piece!
  2. Make sure you have a clear plan of what dynamic level each section is to be performed—let your ensemble know what this is
  3. Rehearse the hardest parts to play to make sure you have consistency—make the sift parts all still very clear and defined, and the loud parts don’t have to be fast!!
  4. Be aware of how dynamic changes make you and your instrument sound—vocalists don’t want to get loud and flat at the same time!!! Work on intonation and tempo
  5. Ensure that you create contrasting sections in technique— BUT only if appropriate!



  1. Always have a clear plan of the structure of your piece
  2. Mark changes in sections on your music—and make sure your ensemble knows what these are as well
  3. Think about ways that you can use structure to your advantage—repeating some sections that you are good at, removing parts that you are not so good at!


Tone Colour

  1. Always tune before each piece
  2. Make sure you have good posture and a strong stance/seated position in performance
  3. Check the balance before you begin the piece—make sure you can be heard and are not being drowned out
  4. Choose pieces carefully—make sure they suit both your performance level and instrument
  5. Make sure your part in the ensemble is the most interesting part! Be the star in the piece and not the background
  6. If the piece does not suit your range—change the key to suit you
  7. Be careful to overuse a particular technique— only strumming basic chords on a guitar for example, or only singing in your chest voice, try some variations even if it means not staying true to the original version of the song
  8. If you play the guitar—try using effects pedals or different techniques for different sections of the music
  9. Make a clear plan of the techniques and changes you will use on your music and rehearse with these ideas in mind so that it becomes second nature to you

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Stage Skills

  1. Rehearse in the space you will be doing your exam in as often as you can
  2. Rehearse with the equipment you will be using in the exam, in the space, as often as possible
  3. Rehearse your body movement before a performance so that you are comfortable during the performance and it is second nature to you
  4. Know exactly where each of the ensemble and yourself will stand in the space
  5. Try to perform from memory without music in front of you
  6. Present yourself in appropriate clothing— nothing too revealing, too tight or restrictive; clothes that are without holes, hair brushed, shoes clean, etc…—make a good impression
  7. Tune properly before each performance and check the sound levels of the ensemble for balance
  8. Warm up before the performance, do not play the pieces over and over before the exam—you want to be fresh
  9. During the performance don’t forget to interact with your ensemble and the audience
  10. Don’t stress over little mistakes—we all make them in a performance
  11. Remember that if you look like you are enjoying the performance, your audience will too!
  12. Have fun!
  13. Relax!!!!!!!

If you would like, you can purchase this set of 50 Tips, along with some really helpful exercises, for $3 at my TPT store.

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Link to the Tips for Improving Your Music Performances here

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Until next time

Happy teaching

Julia from Jooya




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