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Always Practice the Details Prior to Performance
In the early 2000s, a young Chinese pianist named Lang Lang was scheduled to perform at New York City’s Carnegie Hall in a highly anticipated debut. At the time he was considered by many critics to be the most exciting keyboard talent in a generation.
In the months leading up to the concert, Lang Lang practiced for countless hours. Given the recent reception to his work, his confidence was sky high and he felt certain he would showcase his virtuosic playing in front of an adoring audience.
But on the day of the concert, he made a critical error. During his warm-up routine, he rushed through his pieces and paid little attention to the details critical to the music. He didn’t practice the nuances so important for flawless execution. In his own words later, he admitted he didn’t take the time to connect with music as he normally did.
Not surprisingly, his performance fell dramatically short of expectations. He played too fast, missed notes, and lacked the emotional depth and nuance that had put him on the map in the first place. His overconfidence convinced him he didn’t need to prepare by practicing the details. After his sub-par performance, he vowed never to make that mistake again.
Practicing or rehearsing prior to performance is something nearly everyone does. Reading through a speech, reworking calculations, organizing ingredients, jotting down notes, testing the work surface, firing up the machine. Good practice breeds confidence and reassures the mind. It also primes the brain, getting it ready to perform.
It is easy to overlook the need to practice the details essential to a great performance. Yet, it is precisely the smallest parts and pieces of any performance that require a fresh and recent rehearsal. Getting the details right in the warm-up encourages a repeat performance when things go live. Replicating the finest details is always easier than engaging them without a recent practice. The devil, as they say, is always in the details.
Behind every brilliant performance lie the nuances and details great performers slave over. Don’t forget them during the warm-up. Details are the difference that makes a difference.