I have been a part of one of the worst performances in town… (yes, one of the many, indeed, and last night was one of it). In fact, I am so acquainted with it I could even give you myriads of ways to ruin your performance, and make the life of the audience (and yours) a living hell. So read on, and take my word for it.
1. Don’t practice. As in, don’t! Book an appointment to perform but don’t rehearse for it. Getting ready would just be a waste of time, besides, you’ve performed this already. So give yourself a break.
2. If and when the circumstances force you to practice, don’t put your mind on it. Let your mind wander around–think of the latest movie you watched, or the conversation you had with your dog. Usually it’s easier to think about these than the nuances you have to deal with in the piece, so please don’t give your brain a hard time.
3. Make sure you don’t know the piece in its entirety. It will all piece itself together on the performance.
4. If performing with somebody, don’t practice with them. They can get by without you. As I said in #1, it’s all a waste of time. Show up on the performance, and not on the rehearsal. You are already a great musician so you don’t need all that rehearsing.
5. Spend the precious hours (or minutes) before performance for some quality time on the phone. Yak about your latest gigs and crushes. Or spend a lot of time on your make-up, hair and gown. This is the night! Look good!
6. Then again it’s better if you forget your gown at home.
7. Borrow someone else’s make-up. Don’t use up all of your own.
8. Don’t focus. Never focus. Hello, focus…what’s that?!?
9. If performing as a member of the choir:
* Don’t look at the choirmaster.
* Smile at the people you know in the audience.
* Give an occasional wave in case they don’t notice you.
* Mumble on the words. Justify that the audience don’t understand Latin anyway (or any of language you are incoherently mumbling at this time).
* Choreography is your ticket to fame. Make sure your actions are different from the rest.
* Foreground, background–who cares??? Let the others worry about it, just do your own thing.
* Don’t lip sync. Sing your heart out. Yes, belt it out, baby!
* Don’t hit that high note, hang onto it.
* Try to sing on a different pitch, better yet, try out a different tonality at every phrase of the song.
10. If performing as an intrumentalist (particularly piano):
* You don’t have to try and do something on stage. Just play from your heart. Then somewhere in between, your lack of rehearsal will practically catch up on you, and you’re sure to have some of those memory gaps they advertise in TV.
* As you try to piece together the parts you unseemingly rehearsed previously, play a measure over and over again, until you know what to do next.
* Or go back to the beginning and play as fast as you can.
* Better yet, stop for a while, and look at the score.
* You forget the last chord. To hell with the dominant and the tonic. End on a German 6th, or whatever out-of this-world chords you can think of. Remember, you are creative.
Then maybe, like Max Bialystock in the movie The Producers, you’ll get lucky even if you’ve done the biggest flop on the history of musical performances. Kudos.