On Thursday, April 2, I had my senior recital. For most, that day was simply Rochester’s first nice Thursday of the year; for me it was terrifying — but exciting. Nothing can really prepare you to go out there and, in culmination of four years of hard work, play for those who helped you along the way.
It was an extremely fun time, but the process leading up to the day is not a short one. My preparation began last semester and culminated in grueling practice sessions that were hours long.
I began by thinking about which music I like to play, and then listening to as many pieces as possible. Once I picked out a varied program, I set in place a schedule that would allow me to reach my goal technically. During the first month, I brought in to my lessons exercises that would highlight imperfections in my playing, so I could improve. By January I was in full swing practicing my pieces.
As April 2 got nearer and nearer, I realized that if I did any more technical work I’d go insane. By that time, all I needed to do was sing and internalize what I’d done. For me, this is the most overlooked thing in preparation for something this big. Mental work. It is the underlying thing many of us try to avoid, and the single biggest killer out there on the stage if you do not prepare correctly.
In my four years at Eastman, I’ve probably never been that nervous about something, but I can honestly say that while I was up there I have never been more excited to play for all my family and friends. However, I could tell immediately during the recital that I had not prepared enough mentally to play, and realized that next time I was going to have to improve on that front. After a certain point, nothing physical can be done to improve your playing in the short term, so you have to give it up and just be inspired by the notes.
When you have a recital coming up, try to be less like me — anxious, nervous, fearful — and try to be more happy in the weeks leading up to it. The things that aren’t in your control will never be in your control, and at some point you have to let go and just enjoy the journey.
I was so blessed to have a wonderful supporting audience there to make me feel at home. Thanks to all who came out to see me play, and remember, mental preparation is the key to doing anything well … so start now!
Andrew Psarris, ‘15