Performance Routine

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Work through pieces slowly.

I decide on my time frame for a concert preparation depending on the program. l always schedule more time than I think I really need, just to be safe.  I have specific goals in every piece so I can keep those in my mind when prioritizing practice hours. 

In the beginning I work through pieces slowly, spending as much time as I need on any section.

I might spend a whole practice day on just one passage in a piece.  Once I start getting specific sections under my fingers, I start working on more repertoire in one practice session. I will be spending less and less time on the challenging sections as my performance preparation progresses.

As time goes I start to realize which particular spots need more work or maybe less work than I expected.  My preparation plan is always changing depending on how much time I have and what needs the most work. 

I try to have everything musically planned and technically prepared at least a week before a recital. That gives me an opportunity to focus more on fundamentals and playing the hard technical passages daily.

This  process helps me maintaining my confidence.  I try to play few mock recitals to check things like endurance and musical pacing. Ideally I record a run through at least once before the performance. It creates a feeling of a real performance and provides an opportunity to study my performance

Performance Day

I try to take as easy as possible the day before a performance. Getting a good night sleep before a performance is very important .

In the day of the performance I do a good warmup few hours before the time to play. I want to be warmed up but not tired. I do my regular warmup routine and maybe run some technical passages slowly, just for confidence. I stop before getting tired even if I feel like I want to practice more.

I eat a good meal around two hours before a performance so I have time to digest the food  but not feeling hungry again.  If I have time, I do stretches to make sure everything in my fingers, arms, and breathing muscles is working smoothly. 

Finally I do a very short version of my earlier warmup around half an hour before the performance to check things one last time. At this moment I accept that  I have prepared as much as possible and focus on my musical goals and enjoying the performance.

Alex Kinmonth

Alex Kinmonth

Alex Kinmonth is the Principal Oboe of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. He is a graduate of The Juilliard School, where he studied with Nathan Hughes of the Metropolitan Opera. Alex has participated in the Mainly Mozart Festival, the Tanglewood Music Festival ,the Music Academy of the West, and the Aspen Festival.