May 27

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Performance Opportunities

All of us have to perform at some point in our lives.

Whether it's a piano recital...

or a school presentation...

or a college interview...

or a job interview...

...there's no opting out of performing at least several times in our lives.

This is where piano becomes analogous to life. Because the first time we test drive something in front of an audience will probably be the roughest performance.

We operate differently in front of a big audience. With the adrenaline, the excitement, and all the other brain chemistry stuff. As much as we prepare ourselves, there's no way we'll know how we feel until we actually do the thing.

Which is why we need to seek out as many performance opportunities as we can. And learn how to prepare for performing in the "big game," as it were.

Chris Rock is an often-cited example. Before doing something like a big Netflix standup special, he would have a routine.

He would test out his material in at least a couple dozen dive clubs first. Venues where there was pressure, but he wasn't putting his career on the line.

With every performance, he would make a note of the jokes that landed, and the jokes that failed.

For the next one, he would optimize and swap out the crap jokes for new ones.

So by the time we finally see him for his world-class performance on Netflix, he's already tested the material dozens of times over.

There's no guessing whether the performance will go well.

He knows the performance will go well.

That's why we have so many recitals at SSPS. While most schools host one or two recitals a year, we host two every month.

Some think it's overkill, two recitals a month. But our students have the unique opportunity to perform as much as their hearts desire.

So that when they need to perform in other contexts, they've had all this wonderful opportunity to practice performing.

But you can seek out performance opportunities everywhere.

If you want to practice your interview skills, apply for a bunch of jobs you don't want. Not because you want to be manipulative. But because you want to practice your interview skills...in actual interviews.

If you have a presentation you need to prepare for work, try presenting it for other professionals in your network. Mastermind groups are great for this sort of thing. You get to practice your presentation, and get incredible feedback.

There are opportunities everywhere. So when you have a big interview, audition, whatever coming up, there's only one thing you need to do to increase your chances of success exponentially.

Practice doing the thing several times elsewhere first. Optimize a couple dozen times.

And then you'll be untouchable.

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For parents, students, and anyone else who believes that music can and should be a meaningful part of everyone's life.

About Jonathan Roberts

I am the founder and director of the South Shore Piano School, and I have been teaching the piano for nearly 20 years. My work centers around bringing music to the lives of kids, parents, and adults in an enriching, meaningful way. At the South Shore Piano School, my incredible colleagues and I accomplish this through skill-based teaching, community, and an innovative, people-first business model. You can read more about me here.


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