closeup of two hands playing a piano keyboard“With a commitment on your calendar, your practice becomes targeted toward an exhilarating purpose.”
The Musician’s Way,
p. 108

Some musicians relish daily practice; others struggle to work consistently.

Whatever our relationship with practice might be, there’s one thing that will motivate us to practice intensely: an upcoming performance.

To be deeply motivating, though, a performance commitment should match our abilities, support our goals, and fit our style.

In contrast, if musicians agree to perform music that outstrips their abilities or that isn’t to their taste, a concert can feel more like a burden than a joy.

I’ve found that student musicians perform less than they might, and, as a result, many wrestle with performance anxiety.

“Whatever our relationship with practice might be, there’s one thing that will motivate us to practice intensely: an upcoming performance.”

To become fearless performers, students need abundant opportunities to try out performance techniques, build skills, and learn to unleash their creativity on stage.

Here are examples of motivating performances suited to musicians of diverse levels.

Performance Situations that Motivate Music Practice

  1. Streamed concerts, even brief ones, shared via the likes of Facebook Live, YouTube Live, or other platforms
  2. Performances in master classes, workshops, coaching sessions (in-person or virtual)
  3. Recording sessions
  4. Private house concerts
  5. Concerts in community venues such as churches, museums, synagogues, libraries (multiple students can perform short selections on the same program)
  6. Competitions and auditions
  7. Recital appearances at music schoolsThe Musician's Way book cover
  8. Gigs at coffee shops, pubs, receptions

To prepare for such performances, it’s crucial that students incorporate practice performances into their schedules, as described on pages 199-201 of The Musician’s Way.

Becoming a Fearless Performer

If performing feels risky to you, take heart. With deliberate practice, you can build up your skills and become the performing artist you aspire to be.

Although you can play or sing for yourself in the privacy of your practice room, music, at its heart, is a social art form, so I encourage you to share your love of music far and wide, even if doing so takes you out of your comfort zone.

In the words of Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, “A ship in port is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” (The Musician’s Way, p. 109)

The Musician’s Way provides comprehensive guidelines for aspiring musicians to practice creatively and present commanding performances.

Related posts
The Benefits of Accessible Music
Practicing Performance
The Self-Motivated Musician
Stoking Motivation

© 2014 Gerald Klickstein
Adapted from The Musician’s Way, p. 108
Photo © Alenavlad, licensed from