Merit School of Music

17 Performance Tips for Music Students



‘Tis the season for performing! This time of year is often packed with concerts and recitals. We love to see young student musicians showing off new skills and giving life to the pieces they’ve been working on so hard over the past few months.


In fact, performances are one of the most exciting parts of the Merit School of Music experience. They provide music students with the chance to apply what they’ve learned, gain confidence as they share their gifts with others, and—when performing in an ensemble, duet or chamber group—build communication and teamwork skills while bonding with their peers.

As your music-lover prepares to sing their heart out or nail that flute solo, we’ve put together a few tips from Merit’s expert faculty and Conservatory students to help them shine on stage.

Terry Henderson, Faculty: Voice

Tip #1 “Remember, as a singer your entire body is your instrument. Stretch, take deep breaths, and make sure you are prepared.”

Tip #2 “Own your stage and your moment, and trust yourself that you’ve done the work and you are prepared.”

Tip #3 “No performance is perfect, don’t be too hard on yourself—as performers we will always want to [be perfect].”


Madison, Flute student

Tip #4 “I first take a moment. I don’t really meditate but I take a moment, relax myself, and tell myself: ‘Everything’s gonna be okay.’”

Tip #5 “If you mess up, don’t worry about it. When you mess up or if you mess up, don’t make it noticeable. Just keep playing! Whatever you do, just keep playing.”

Tip #6 “Play your heart out. Don’t let anyone make you nervous because the only person that makes you nervous is yourself.”


Jeremiah PriceBand & Jazz Program Director

Tip #7 “Beside basic breathing techniques (take deep breaths!), I like to disconnect from whatever’s going on. So, go to whatever your favorite thing is: Listen to your favorite song, look at your favorite show for a minute, look at something that makes you laugh or gets a little bit of your energy out. That way you get a little bit of that anxiousness out.”


Christopher, Saxophone student

Tip #8 “Practice! And make sure to tune your instrument.”


Sally Blandón, Early Childhood & General Music Program Director

Tip #9 “Breath it out. I use lots of breathing, and a lot of visualizing and meditation.”

Tip #10 “And a little party dance! I recommend listening to hype music—I actually got that from one of our students!”

Tip #11 “Also, lots of water and make sure to eat well before the performance.”


Liszette, Flute student

Tip #12 “I hang out with my band friends to calm my nerves!”


Yari, French Horn student

Tip #13 “Think calmly. Think positive thoughts.”


Steven Gooden, Ensemble Director: Merit Philharmonic, Symphonic Band, Merit Music in Communities; Faculty: Clarinet

Tip #14 “Sing! Sing your part without even having your instrument in your hand so you visualize it in your head, just like golfers do practice swings before they actually hit the ball or [basketball players] with free throws. You have to visualize it and be in that head space—which is also good for focusing to block everything else out.”

Tip #15 “And remember that you’re sharing something that’s really happy—just like you’re not going to be afraid to share your favorite ice cream with somebody because it’s your favorite thing.”


Elizabeth, Clarinet student

Tip #16 “Stay calm and tell yourself you’re going to do well.”


David Allie, Ensemble Director: Concert Band, Merit Music in Communities; Faculty: Trumpet

Tip #17 “Treat performance day like any other rehearsal day. And treat the day like it’s your first day at Merit. Review all the fundamentals and go over all things you need to know to play really well.”

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