A true musician delights in performing to the best of his or her abilities in front of an appreciative and knowledgeable audience. Great musicians have the ability to perform even the most elementary of pieces in a way that seems beautiful and polished. And great musicians show excellent performance etiquette. Performance etiquette is all about respect for your audience. The Adjudicator will value your performance etiquette highly - it is an integral part of the whole performance.
Here is a bit of useful advice, written by a veteran Eisteddfod attendendee and observer, covering the following topics:
What do I wear?
Young men look great in black (or dark) pants, black shoes and a plain collared shirt (no loud checks, patterns or Hawaiian shirts, thanks). You can dress up a white shirt with a narrow tie or bow tie, but that’s optional. A black shirt without a tie can look great too. A jacket always looks terrific with or without a tie.
Young ladies have wider choices – formal or semi formal dresses, skirts and tops, or simple, smart pants. Shoes can be closed or open toed, with low to medium heels.
NO SPORTS SHOES, NO TRACK PANTS, NO JEANS, NO HOODIES.
DO NOT give the impression you would rather be skateboarding – nobody likes to watch someone looking as though they would rather be elsewhere.
Do I bow? When and how?
In solo competitions, you are expected to bow TWICE - once BEFORE you perform (straight after the Compere has introduced you), and once AFTER.
When the Compere introduces you, walk to the perfomance area and turn to face the audience. SMILE and BOW.
Keep it simple: bend forward at the waist with your head down, and your arms down by your sides. Hold your bow for 2 – 3 seconds; in fact, long enough to think the words, “Thank you for coming today”. Keep smiling as you straighten up, then walk to where you will be performing.
At the end, regardless of how you performed, stand up, SMILE at the audience and bow as before – long enough to think the words, “Thank you for listening”. Enjoy the clapping, and then exit with a smile. You should feel proud – after all, you have performed your piece in public, and that is definitely something to be proud of.
What do I do if I stuff up?
Firstly, everyone stuffs up occasionally, so relax! This is only an Eisteddfod, NOT AN EXAM, so there are no consequences if things don't quite go to plan.
If you trip up within the first few bars, just stop, calm down, SMILE and start again. Smiling relaxes the facial muscles, which in turn relaxes the rest of you!
If you stumble midway through your performance, just keep going, and focus on keeping the pulse steady. Chances are that the audience won't notice, and the Adjudicator may even note how well you recover. Everyone tends to rush if they are a little excited, so keep that pace steady - don't speed up! Maintain a slightly slower pace than you think you should be at -nerves can make you start too fast, and it is difficult to maintain that speed. A slightly slower pace gives you more time to get the details right.
Before the Eisteddfod, if you have the opportunity to practise in a different location from your usual one, do so! Pretend you are already performing in the Eisteddfod, so on the big day you don't feel overwhelmed.
Also, practise starting half way through your piece or at different points in your piece - one tends to practise from beginning to end, but in a performance even a small stumble may throw you sufficiently to make you forget what comes next!
Remember - it is only an Eisteddfod, not an exam, so think of it as a lovely opportunity to perform those beautiful pieces you have been practising to more people than just an examiner!
What do I do after I have finished?
Do I have to stay until the end? Should I stay or can I go? The right thing to do is stay until the end of the section,
There are several good reasons for staying until the end, apart from good manners.
The Adjudicator gives an insightful and inspirational speech at the end of the section about the pieces he or she has listened to, and gives excellent and often quite brilliant advice about how to further enhance the quality of the performances. Often particular performances are singled out and spoken about because there was something special about it (yours, perhaps), even if the participant didn't win a prize.
You can pick up your Adjudicator's critique sheet. These sheets are invaluable for getting objective and encouraging remarks about your performance. Every performer gets a crit sheet, so leaving early means you don't get to take yours home. At the end of the day uncollected crit sheets can be misplaced or someone else might pick yours up.
You won't know if you have won a prize of some sort if you are not around to receive it! There have been many occasions in the past when the Adjudicator had announced the prize winners, and most of them had gone home. This is a very sad and embarrassing situation for the Adjudicator and organisers, and arrogant and disrespectful of the competitor.
The Monash Youth Music Festival Adjudicators are well respected musicians in their own right, and it is an honour and privilege to have them listen to you. So please stay until the end if you can to listen to their speech!