Being Organized

David Motto’s Practice Tip of the Week:
An Important Way to Save Time and Frustration

Being Organized. It’s essential if you really want to meet your goals, save time, and lower your level of frustration.

To make the best use of your time, you’ll need to be extremely organized about planning the music to be covered in today’s practice session. And, please don’t forget to plan the physical organization of your practice space itself.

Have a Designated Practice Area

Most practice experts recommend having one place where you always practice. While this is obvious for pianists and drummers, it is an essential suggestion for guitarists, string players, and woodwind and brass players who can (and do) set up anywhere.

A single space for practicing has three high-level advantages:

  • You know your job is to play music when you’re in this space. This helps your concentration and focus.
  • It’s easy to tell others in your household not to disturb you when you’re in this space.
  • The practice room helps you form the habit of practicing regularly. Stepping into this space becomes a cue for playing music.

Organize Your Practice Accessories

Within your practice space, you can designate specific areas to place all the little items that make playing your instrument easier. You don’t want to waste time searching for your metronome, tuner, pencil, smartphone, sheet music, instrument stand, or other necessities.

The frustration of misplacing just one of these items can be enough to make some musicians simply give up on practicing for the day.

Some musicians keep these things in their instrument case. Others have a specific shelf, drawer, or table for this purpose. Many professional musicians have two sets of these items: one in their practice space, and another in their case for taking to rehearsals and gigs.

A Useful Rule of Thumb

Keep everything you need to practice within arm’s length of where you’re sitting (or standing) as you practice. Any time you have to get up or walk across the room to retrieve something is time wasted and an interruption to your concentration and train of thought.

The importance of keeping your focus and concentration while practicing cannot be over-emphasized. Focus is perhaps the single most important component of building successful skills during practice sessions. If you lose your focus, you’ll need to remember exactly what you were doing, get back into your thought process, and re-start your practicing. That is inefficient, frustrating, and an ineffective way to improve your skills.

Create Your Own Organizational System

There’s no right or wrong way to organize your practice area as long as you have some sort of system. That way, you never waste time during practicing and you eliminate a common source of musicians’ aggravation.

Try to have your practice space ready at all times. Keep a chair and music stand permanently set up. It’s a good idea to store your instrument there too! And, by knowing exactly where your accessories are, you’ll be ready to make music in no time.

To Your Musical Success!
David Motto

p.s. One absolute must-have item to organize your practicing is a practice journal. Using a journal is recommended by every expert on practicing music and goal achievement.

My journal is the Musician’s Practice Planner.

Used by thousands of musicians worldwide, the Musician’s Practice Planner helps you focus on your goals and achieve them!

Posted in Achieving Goals, Motivation, Music, Music Practice Tips | Leave a comment

Control Your Nerves

David Motto’s Practice Tip of the Week:
Know How to Control Your Nerves

Some musicians are lucky. They never get nervous.

They can perform at the drop of a hat. They don’t even give it a second’s thought. If this is you, feel free to skip this week’s Practice Tip.

For the rest of us, we need to understand our nervous cycles. We must learn to use our nervousness to our benefit and even channel this energy into our performances.

Nervousness Equals Caring

First off, know that you are nervous because performing music is important to you. You are actually lucky to have something in your life to feel nervous about!

You don’t get nervous about things that don’t matter to you.

You care so much about your music that it can make you feel nervous. Many people have nothing they are passionate about. You do! This is good news, not bad news.

By just openly admitting to yourself that your performance matters to you, and by committing fully to making it something meaningful for you, you can start the process of suppressing your nervous response. Own the fact that it’s important to you, and you’ll already be more confident.

Recognizing the Physical Effects

Second, learn how your nervousness manifests itself physically. Each of us reacts differently when we feel nervous. Do you get sweaty palms? Dry mouth? The shakes? Increased heart rate? Shallow breathing? Need to go to the bathroom?

By understanding the effect being nervous has on your body, you can decide on the best remedy to counteract your symptoms. It’s very important that you can clearly define and recognize these physical effects as they start to happen.

You may need to carry a towel or a glass of water on stage with you. Perhaps deep breathing exercises will help. Maybe you’ll need to visit the bathroom just before you walk on stage. Musicians even use prescription beta blockers to feel steady.

Do whatever it takes to feel in control physically.

Also, remember that when I say “stage,” I don’t necessarily mean an actual stage in front of a real, live, human audience. Lots of situations feel like being on stage and can trigger nervous reactions: playing for a teacher at a lesson, performing for a friend who will critique you, doing a runthrough in your practice studio while shooting video of yourself, going over something difficult at a rehearsal. As far as your nervous system is concerned, these are all the same as being on stage.

Your Nervousness Clock

Third, make sure you are aware of the timeline of your nervous cycle.

Some musicians feel overcome with nerves right before a performance. Others are nervous an hour before going on stage, or even the day before.

You must learn what you can and cannot get accomplished when you feel nervous. Perhaps practicing or warming up during that time period is not realistic for you. You will need to fill that time with something that will calm you down: a visualization, calling/texting a supportive friend, playing your favorite video game – something, anything that makes you feel normal.

Release the Energy into Your Music

Finally, you can decide to push your nervous feelings – which are a by-product of your desire for success – into the intensity of your music.

Don’t let your nerves affect your private thoughts or arouse your inner critic. Instead, take all that bundled-up energy and let it escape through your performance.

Controlling nerves is part of successful practicing and performing. Increasing your awareness and understanding of your own nervous cycle can have a surprisingly positive effect on your music, and your overall well-being.

Here’s my favorite anonymous quote on this topic:

“Nervous” and “excited” are the same thing, so you might as well call it “excited”!

To Your Musical Success!
David Motto

Posted in Achieving Goals, Music, Music Performance Tips, Music Practice Tips | 2 Comments

Play, Don’t Work

David Motto’s Practice Tip of the Week:
Play Your Instrument, Don’t Work It

Work vs. Play

We live in a world in which a lot of work is drudgery. Some jobs are unfulfilling, and people can be unhappy at work.

These feelings should never exist when you play music. After all, it’s built into our language: We “play” our instruments, we don’t “work” them.

When you are playing your instrument – whether it’s what you do for a living or just as a weekend hobby – there should always be an element of play involved.

Think of young children on a playground. They’re unconscious of time, responsibilities, outcomes, what comes next. They’re just playing.

We have an opportunity to be like those children when we practice, rehearse, and perform. Sure, musicians want to make forward progress. But, sometimes this progress is best achieved by letting go.

Let It Go

Many musicians have difficulty letting go of their serious side, and sometimes you have to be serious to figure out a particularly challenging musical issue. Too much serious effort, however, will get in the way of becoming the musician you’ve always dreamed of being.

You can’t spend every practice session thinking it’s work!

Sometimes, you’ve just got to let go of all your “shoulds” and your usual expectations. You’ve got to let go and enjoy yourself!

Four “Play” Strategies

Here are four simple suggestions to put the element of “Play” into your, uh, playing:

1. Act Crazy
At some point during every practice session, play through something with reckless abandon. Don’t worry about your sound. Just play!

2. Try the Impossible
Try to play something that seems absolutely impossible – and be sure to laugh at yourself as you do it. This can be a lot of fun since you know there’s no possibility of “succeeding.”

3. Purposefully Sound Bad
Pretend it’s the very first time you’re playing, and try to sound like an absolute beginner. Play out of tune. Use horrible tone. Play way too loud. Lose all physical control of your instrument.

4. Play Something You Hate
Play a style of music you absolutely hate. Bring out all the elements of this style that you can’t stand. Overdo it. You can even use the body language of musicians who play this style.

Remembering to Have Fun

Each of these four strategies can add some humor to your practice sessions and reconnect you to “playing” your instrument

Being a musician is fun. We’ve all got to remember this. Recognize that what you’re doing in the practice room, during rehearsals, and on stage is play. This recognition will make all the difference!

To Your Musical Success!
David Motto

Posted in Motivation, Music, Music Practice Tips | 2 Comments

How Breaks Improve Focus

David Motto’s Practice Tip of the Week:
How Breaks Improve Focus

Practicing Without Breaks?

There is a myth among musicians that the best progress is made by locking yourself in a room and playing straight for two to four hours.

This is a fantasy.

Let’s take a look at reality.

First, the physical positions we put our bodies in to play most musical instruments are not exactly normal. And, singers can put a lot of strain on their throats and vocal apparatus if their technique is even a little bit off. It can be difficult or even painful to play and sing for hours on end.

Second, most people can’t concentrate for long periods of time. A high level of focus is needed for breakthroughs to happen.

If you want both to keep your focus and to stay healthy, you should take frequent breaks during practicing.

When to Take Breaks

How often should you take a break? Many teachers recommend a break after 30 minutes of playing. The truth is, there is no perfect, one-size-fits-all rule for everyone.

But, it is clear that most musicians would benefit from taking breaks far more frequently than they naturally do. I recommend deciding ahead of time how long you’ll practice before you take a break. Set a timer for that length of time and actually take the break when the timer goes off.

Don’t fall victim to the “I’ll take a break after I finish figuring out this thing I’m working on.” If that’s what you’re thinking, you’ll keep going too long and not take a break when your body needs it.

Another question: How long should a break be? Again, there is no definitive rule. A 5-minute break seems to work successfully for many musicians. Some need 10 minutes, depending on what they do during the break.

Why We Need Breaks

Breaks are important for avoiding repetitive-use injuries, back pain, and many other common afflictions. Breaks also give you an opportunity to clear your mind before moving onto another practice item. (For instance, going from technical exercises to songs.)

Breaks will definitely improve your ability to focus. For instance, if you are worrying about a voicemail or text message while playing, you are probably not at your peak practicing level. Your lack of concentration will make your practicing much less efficient.

What To Do During a Break

Here are some possible activities for your break time:

  • Drink some water so you stay hydrated and maybe even have a small snack.
  • If you’re a singer, gargle with warm salt water.
  • Stretch your muscles and walk. Some musicians even like running in place to get their heart pumping a bit faster.
  • If you have been standing, sit. This will give your feet and back a rest.
  • If you have been sitting, stand. This will let your blood circulate better.
  • If you feel hot, soak your hands in cool water. If you’re cold, soak your hands in warm water.
  • Read that text message. Quickly return a phone call. Take care of any small demand on your time so you will be able to fully concentrate on your music after your break.

When you return to the practice room after a short break, you will be focused, refreshed, and ready to learn more music!

To Your Musical Success!
David Motto

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Being in the Dark

David Motto’s Practice Tip of the Week:
Being in the Dark

Visual Information Can Be Distracting

Musicians often depend too heavily on visual information to help them play accurately. Whether it’s reading sheet music, getting a cue from another musician, or following a conductor, many instrumentalists and singers are too dependent on what they see.

Some musicians even watch their instruments in order to play. They’ve grown dependent on watching their fingers to hit the right notes.

All of this dependence on sight – and focusing on what you’re looking at – distracts you from the music itself. The real music you’re creating is pure sound. If you can re-connect to the aural properties of music without being distracted by what you see, you can have a deeper relationship with the songs you’re performing.

Try Total Darkness

One of the best ways to focus yourself on the sound you are producing is to practice in a darkened room. This is very different than playing with your eyes closed (where you know you can open them at any time) and I encourage you to turn off the lights!

I’m not recommending low-level lighting or mood lighting. Try total darkness. Make sure you cannot see your hand in front of your face.

Once you’ve grown accustomed to being in the dark, try playing some music you know well. How do you feel? Do you have any sensations you don’t normally have?

Many musicians are afraid to try this practice technique because they worry they won’t be able to play at all, that they’ll miss too many notes, or they’ll become disoriented.

But, don’t worry about those things. Actually, if they happen, it’s perfectly fine–even to be expected. It’s part of the experience of trying something new and may make you re-think how you’re playing certain notes.

Benefits of Playing in the Dark

When you play in the dark, you will learn a lot about yourself. You’ll gain new insight into both your strengths and weaknesses. You’ll be a better judge of your true comfort level with the music you’re playing.

And, there’s another bonus to this practice technique:

Without the visual distractions that can make you start thinking about something other than the music itself, your level of focus will rise to a whole new level.

By the way, this practice technique is a lot of fun for ensembles too. Now, it may not work for an entire orchestra or concert band, but chamber groups, rock bands, jazz combos, and small choirs can all benefit from making music in a darkened room.

You will have the opportunity to really, truly listen to your fellow musicians, and you will learn to trust each other as well.

Experiencing your music in a darkened setting will force you to come to terms with any weaknesses in your playing. And, better yet, it will allow you to hear yourself more completely.

To Your Musical Success!
David Motto

Posted in Music Practice Tips | 3 Comments

Musicians as Athletes

David Motto’s Practice Tip of the Week:
Musicians as Athletes

The Demands We Make on Our Bodies

Physical comfort while playing your instrument is important, and your actions before and after you play also greatly influence your ability to perform.

Too often, musicians feel they can just practice, rehearse, or perform for an hour or two, and then walk away with no regard whatsoever to the demands they place on their bodies.

Sometimes, these demands are too much. You or someone you know may be playing in pain or could even be dealing with an injury from playing music.

There is even an entire medical specialty, “music medicine” that has been created to deal with the stresses put on musicians from playing their instruments. There used to just be “sports medicine.” Well, now we musicians have our very own specialty field because of the damage we inflict on ourselves!

My Own Story

This topic is near and dear to my heart. When I was in college, I suffered a debilitating overuse injury in my left hand. I was unable to play for three years and didn’t know at the time if I would ever play music again.

As you can imagine, this was a traumatic time for me.

But, I was lucky. I healed and was able to return to being a musician full time.

Since then, I’ve been an advocate of playing entirely pain-free, minimizing the use of pressure to create tone, and understanding the physiology and bio-mechanics of playing musical instruments.

Stretching Like an Athlete

You may not regard your playing as an athletic endeavor. After all, your heartbeat generally won’t rise to its target exercise rate, and you may not sweat while you play.

But, your muscles, joints, and spine are all being taxed. Make sure your body is ready for this physical demand before you start playing music.

Like all good athletes, musicians should stretch out before practicing or playing. It’s a great idea to stretch afterward also.

You don’t need to do 30 minutes of yoga or Tai Chi. Even a few minutes of basic stretching will pay off. Stretch your neck, your legs, your arms, and your hands. A little stretching now could save you from injury later.

Many musicians develop tightness or pain in specific areas. Perhaps this is the case for you. If so, focus your stretching on that area and related areas in your body.

For instance, if your hands tighten up while you play, stretch not only your hands, but also your wrists, arms, shoulders, neck, and back.

Beyond Stretching

To improve their performance, musicians can also use other methods favored by athletes. In addition to stretching, it can be useful to apply heat or ice to painful or tight muscles. Massage, Alexander Technique, and Feldenkrais are helpful for some musicians.

If you think of yourself as an athlete, you will take the time to prepare yourself for practicing and performing. Stretching and other activities just might keep you healthy.

Then, you will be able to enjoy playing music for a lifetime.

Great Resource for Musicians

My go-to guy for stretching routines is Bob Anderson, one of the world’s foremost experts on stretching who has worked with many college and professional sports teams.

You can visit Bob Anderson’s Stretching website for information on his books and software.

I use Bob’s stretching book every day and endorse it enthusiastically.

To Your Musical Success!
David Motto

Posted in Music Lessons, Music Practice Tips, Music Rehearsal Tips, Tools for Musicians | 2 Comments

The Best Music Memorization Tip Ever

David Motto’s Practice Tip of the Week:
The #1 Music Memorization Strategy

There Are a Lot of Memorization Techniques

Many musicians contact me asking me for tips on playing and performing from memory. It’s clearly something that worries a lot of people – instrumentalists and vocalists, beginners and professionals, rockers and classical players.

There’s a lot of advice available on memorization techniques. There are books. (A lot of books.) There are websites. (Really a lot of websites.) There are online forums. (Mostly full of advice from musicians who know a whole lot less than you already know.)

You can read through these memorization tips – some of which are absolutely worthwhile and helpful – and still miss the strategy that I consider the all-time, #1, best-of-the-best memorization strategy.

Sure, it’s hidden in the other information, usually as a minor part of another strategy. It needs to be singled out, however, because it is an absolute game changer for musicians.

Here it is:

“The Song” vs. “Performing the Song”

Always memorize The Song before you try to learn how to play The Song. “The Song” and “How to Play the Song” are two completely different things.

Starting the memorization process by learning how to play The Song before you’ve learned The Song itself is a huge waste of time and effort. I think you know what I mean. You’ve probably found yourself struggling more than once with memorization issues while simultaneously dealing with coordination issues and performance issues.

The Song is sound. That sound is organized into sections and usually has a melody, harmony, and rhythms. It’s in a certain key (or keys) and has a specific pulse (which, in sheet music would be a time signature). The Song may or may not have lyrics.

You can memorize absolutely every one of these elements of your song without ever playing it on your instrument or singing the melody.

Using Recordings to Help the Memorization Process

The best method for memorizing The Song is to listen to recordings of it many, many times. But, it’s a specific kind of listening, and it needs to be done in a specific order.

Here’s the order:

First: Listen for Fun
You remember how fun songs were when you weren’t trying to perform them yourself? You need to recapture that amazing feeling. Enjoy the music. Get to know The Song like any fan or audience member would.

Second: Song Sections
Okay, here’s where you start listening like a performing artist who needs to get inside The Song. You’re no longer an audience member just having fun. Time to get to work! Identify the song sections. Notice which sections are the same (or very similar). Notice which are different. Learn how long each section is. Know what order the sections are in. If you’re using sheet music, read along in the music as you listen to the recording and notice where the sections are in the printed music and add your own markings to the sheet music to identify the sections.

Third: Rhythms
Familiarize yourself with any complicated rhythms in the song. Be sure you can clap or sing these rhythms perfectly. No faking allowed! You’re not going to be able to play or sing these rhythms correctly when learning, practicing, and performing The Song if you can’t do the rhythms on their own.

Fourth: Sing Your Part
If you are an instrumentalist and this is a solo piece, you’ll need to sing through what you’ll be playing before you attempt to learn it on your instrument. If you’re an instrumentalist and part of an ensemble or band, make sure you can sing your part before learning how to play it. If you are a singer, make sure you can sing through the melody with the correct rhythms and entrances as you listen to the recording. No matter what your musical responsibility is, you’ve got to hear all the important musical elements of what you’ll eventually be performing. And, you’ve got to hear them perfectly.

All four of these steps are necessary if you want to truly be in control of The Song.

Change Your Relationship to Memorization

This whole process could take a day, a week, or several months depending on how much time you have, how much experience you have, and how
complex the music is. Don’t worry about how long it takes. Just memorize the song!!

Only when you’ve completed the process of memorizing The Song itself (and I mean really memorized it!!) should you start learning how to play it.

Starting the memorization process with The Song itself – instead of just jumping in and trying to instantly perform – will completely change your relationship to memorizing music. You will be able to learn how to play every song much faster, and you’ll be able to memorize playing The Song more efficiently with less anxiety and more confidence.

To Your Musical Success!
David Motto

Posted in Achieving Goals, Memorization, Music, Music Performance Tips, Music Practice Tips, Music Rehearsal Tips, Performance Preparation | 4 Comments

Physical Comfort

David Motto’s Practice Tip of the Week:
Physical Comfort

Making Music Can Feel Unnatural

The physical positions used to play musical instruments, and the stress put on the vocal cords when singing, can be unnatural and occasionally uncomfortable. Because of this, it’s important to:

  • Remain as comfortable as possible while you’re making music
  • Make your playing and singing stress-free so you’re not over-exerting yourself or causing yourself any physical damage

Every instrument has its physical challenges, and many of the motions we make playing instruments are repetitive. These repetitive motions of small muscle groups are like lifting tiny weights over and over again.

This means you need to be comfortable while you’re playing. Otherwise, your muscles won’t have the stamina needed to get through a performance.

Singers face unique challenges too. The angle of your head and neck, where you place your microphone, and the positioning of your torso (which affects breathing) can slowly and insidiously cause damage you’re not aware of until it’s too late.

Three Strategies to Remain Comfortable While Making Music

Here are three simple ideas to try in the practice room, during rehearsals, and on stage:

1. Focus on Your Posture
If you stand while you play or sing, make sure your legs feel loose and your knees are not locked. Balance your weight over both feet and be aware if you are always putting your weight on just your heels or just the balls of your feet. Make adjustments as needed to maximize your stamina and comfort.

If you sit while practicing or performing, use a comfortable chair or stool. Be sure the height of your chair is adjusted to be comfortable for you. You may need to use a pad to help with your posture or to support your back.

All of these steps will help you reach every note with a minimum of tension. With this awareness of your posture you can learn to stop yourself from tensing up just when you need extra effort from your muscles.

2. Bend Your Joints Naturally
FOR INSTRUMENTALISTS: Your shoulders, elbows, wrists, and fingers all need to be used naturally for your playing to be tension-free. If you find yourself unable to play something, check all four of these joint areas for tension. Don’t let any of these joints get locked into a position that will immobilize you.

Your fingers and the gripping muscles in your hands are areas of special concern. If your knuckles collapse while you’re playing, or if you’re gripping too hard with your hand(s), you will slow down your playing. This means it will be impossible to learn any fast notes. Pay special attention to your hands when you’re trying to learn something really fast or difficult.

FOR SINGERS: There are two important ideas about paying attention to your joints to keep your singing stress-free, with full tone and accurate pitch. First, the positioning of your neck and shoulders will directly affect your air flow and your ability to inhale deeply. Any positioning that affects your vocal apparatus and your lungs needs to be watched. Second, even the joints in your body that have nothing to do with singing can affect your sound output. Tension in your hips, knees, or hands can cause you to tighten your shoulders, neck, or jaw. (Yes, somehow or other, the leg bone really is connected to the jaw bone!!) You need control of your whole body to create the vocal tone of your dreams.

3. Pay Attention to Your Breathing
Okay, if you’re a singer or a wind player, you know you need to pay attention to your breathing. You definitely don’t need me to tell you that! Shallow breathing and lack of control for exhaling will wreak havoc on every aspect of your sound.

If you don’t push air to create your music (guitarists, pianists, drummers, string players – I’m talking to you!) your breathing still has a huge effect on your sound and your ability to play well. Many musicians stop breathing or begin taking shallow breaths right when they encounter a difficult musical section.

Cutting off oxygen to your brain and muscles will not make the music easier to play! Make sure you take full breaths and position your torso to make breathing as easy as possible.

Do Whatever It Takes

These three ideas are just a few of the many areas of focus for remaining comfortable when you make music. This is not an exhaustive list. Instead, it’s a realistic list that you can try immediately.

Basically, you need to do whatever it takes to feel good physically as you go through the intricate steps needed to play your instrument accurately and precisely, sing accurately with the tone you desire, and – for you rockers – jump around the stage without doing any physical damage.

And, while I said above that these strategies are “simple,” this does not mean that they are automatic! You will need to be constantly vigilant, reminding yourself over and over to pay attention to how you are using (or abusing!) your body when making music.

Respect what you ask of your muscles and your body. Every time you practice, rehearse, or perform, you are creating habits and building muscle memory. It’s best to form habits that are good for your body over the long haul.

To Your Musical Success!
David Motto

Posted in Music, Music Practice Tips, Performance Preparation | 2 Comments

Adding Emotion to Music

David Motto’s Practice Tip of the Week:
How to Add Emotion to Your Music

Building Emotional Roadmaps

Having an emotional roadmap for any song you’re learning makes performing more satisfying and truly communicates the meaning of the music to an audience.

Audiences are looking for an emotional connection to you. They care more about making that connection than they do about your technical capabilities or your quest for perfection.

Since most practicing musicians don’t know how to easily convey emotions in their music, I want to give you a simple exercise you can start using in the practice room immediately to develop this skill.

The Emotion Exercise

Using only a single scale or arpeggio, play/sing it so that it conveys as many emotions as you can think of. These emotions should run the gamut from the most positive to the most negative.

Here is an example:

Play or sing a one octave major scale many times, each time infusing the scale with a different emotion.

Here are some suggestions for positive emotions:

Next, try the same exercise with negative emotions:

This one exercise will open you up to a nearly unlimited palette of sound – and this is all with just a major scale!

Emotion Beats Technique

When musicians try this experiment, an amazing process unfolds. Often, people modify their playing techniques to accommodate the emotion. This change happens automatically.

This is much more natural than planning a specific physical technique to bring out a certain emotion. Going for the emotion first seems to unlock musicians’ technical creativity.

For many musicians this process makes them play their instruments or sing songs in the most interesting way they’ve ever experienced–all because they have an emotional goal with their music. Instead of worrying about the notes, you’ll find yourself actually communicating real feelings!

If you could practice, rehearse, and perform like this all the time, you would get so much more out of being a musician. And, if you can successfully do this exercise with a major scale, imagine how gratifying it will be to use this concept with music you truly love and plan to perform.

To Your Musical Success!
David Motto

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Quick Performance Tip – Be Convincing

Convince Your Audience

What matters during your performance is being convincing. It’s best if you feel in control, but – even if you feel a bit out of control and on the edge of your abilities – convince your audience anyway!

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