“Spectacular achievement is always preceded by unspectacular preparation.” – Robert H. Schuller
There are two answers to the question, “What’s happening tomorrow?” if it’s posed to a member of a chorus the night before a concert:
- “We have a concert tomorrow night, I can’t wait.”
- “We have a concert tomorrow night…what do I do? AUGH!!!”
There are some simple answers to that second one; let’s explore a bit.
The night before the concert
It’s just another evening, you know. Tomorrow things are going to get a little bit nuts, but not tonight. Make an effort to keep it that way, especially if this is your first big performance. Some things that will help smooth the bumps:
– Have a good, healthy evening meal. There are those who would say “pound those carbs” and there’s nothing wrong with that. They create a little energy reserve you can use later…but I find I end up feeling a little sluggish if I have a big bowl of pasta. Regardless of the main course, make a point of eating fresh fruit and veggies. A little extra fiber is a good thing for that soon-to-be-a-little-fluttery tummy. Don’t go for crazy spicy…it can remind you of itself tomorrow.
– Prep your clothes for the concert. I always iron my shirt and pants the night before and hang them to wait for me. It’s one less thing to have to mess with the next day. Have your music folder and whatever else you need all set up and ready to go so there’s nothing to stress about.
– Don’t have that second glass of wine (even though it really sounds delightful). Have some extra water instead, you’re going to want to be nice and hydrated tomorrow and an early start on that is a good strategy. Even though alcohol helps you to doze off quickly it actually has a negative effect on the overall quality of the rest you get (I could rattle on about REM sleep and all that stuff, but just take my word for it). I’m also a big fan of decaffeinated mint tea.
– Speaking of rest, get a good dose of it. Tomorrow’s concert is after a full day of whatever it is you normally do and will get started at just about the time you normally put your feet up and watch a little TV or some other not-so-strenuous activity. If you can, go to bed a little early. A sneaky little trick I’ve learned over the years (because I’m one of those guys who can easily end up staring at the ceiling thinking about the show the next day): take a nice hot bath or shower a little while before you go to bed. Works like a charm. Zzzzzz.
The night of the concert
– Don’t skip dinner! Don’t eat an entire side of beef, but feed the machine. The only thing worse than butterflies is butterflies on an empty stomach. Stomach acid is no fun when you’re trying to sing. Been there, urped that.
– Keep the water flowing; you need to be hydrated more than you normally would be. All of the evil things that leech water out of you are coming to visit: adrenaline, extra exertion at a normally restful time of day, sweating for a good long time – you get the picture. Water is your very best friend.
– Don’t be late. Have all your stuff ready, but also think your way through the timing of things to make sure you have all the minutes necessary. Being on time is not only respectful to the rest of the group, it also avoids the first little nibble of anxiety that can creep in because you’re rushing.
“Some people are making such thorough preparation for rainy days that they aren’t enjoying today’s sunshine.” – William Feather
– Have fun! You’re surrounded by people who have become your friends in a special and unique way. You make magic together and call it music. You’ve been working to get to this evening for a long time and you’ve earned your place and deserve to be here (even if you don’t really believe it). Everybody else is amped up too; have some laughs.
Most importantly, at least in your Blogmeister’s humble opinion, take a moment to stop. Find a quiet spot and just stop. Not for long, just long enough to gather yourself into yourself and think about the journey that brought you to concert night. Hard work, a little frustration, lots of laughter, moments of emotion, singing “Happy Birthday”, the conductor’s unique style, the accompanist being grumpy. Enjoy that little smile it’s sure to bring and, just before you dive back into the craziness, remind yourself that what you’re doing is important. The arts matter and you are part of why.
You’re ready. Go and sing. It’ll be awesome.
“Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything. Music is the movement of sound to reach the soul for the education of its virtue.” – Plato
Briggs Christie is a member and blogger for the Windward Choral Society in Kailua, O’ahu, HI. You can find the original post or more writings by Briggs here.