close-up of antique clock face“With big events, the artistic and logistical details can reach nerve-racking proportions.”
The Musician’s Way, p. 216

We all know that excellent performances result from thorough preparation.

But preparing for concerts, auditions, and recording sessions entails managing numerous particulars long before those events take place.

For young musicians, the complexities of organizing rehearsals, travel, communications, and so forth may exceed what they’ve previously handled, skyrocketing their stress levels and undermining their ability to perform.

With organizational strategies in hand, though, musicians can smoothly manage their preparations and be primed to perform at their best.

Documenting Performance Plans

I advise musicians to create preparation timelines as soon as they book events such as concerts, auditions, and competitions.

A model timeline can be found on p. 218 of The Musician’s Way – it summarizes how a college violinist planned for his senior recital over a 12-week period. A downloadable version of a blank timeline document is freely available on the Downloads page at

The timeline format I use divides pre-performance tasks into two columns:

  • One column tracks artistic tasks such as when pieces should be memorized, up to tempo, and so on. With an artistic timeline in place, musicians can then schedule rehearsals, practice performances, and recording sessions.
  • The second column ropes in logistical details – booking travel, submitting concert programs and press releases, reserving rehearsal and recording spaces, etc. By spreading out those tasks over many weeks, musicians can calmly dispatch them one by one.The Musician's Way book cover

The Benefits of Planning

Veteran performers know that planning is as essential to musical success as are technique and artistry. When we plan well, we get things done with minimal stress, allowing for the mental space we need to practice deeply and be creative.

Musicians who shirk organizing often miss deadlines, cram at the last minute, infuriate coperformers, and otherwise underachieve.

In sum, smart planning plus thorough preparation add up to the surest formula for success.

Download a free concert preparation timeline. See Part II of The Musician’s Way for inclusive performance strategies.

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Performance-oriented practice
The self-motivated musician
The 3 Roots of Performance Anxiety

© 2010 Gerald Klickstein
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