This post was inspired by Yamaha Master Educator Richard Floyd
Every marching band, ensemble, or solo performer knows the drill. After months of rehearsal and hours of fine-tuning, they nervously prepare to take the field or stage. Frazzled directors hopping with adrenaline shout last-minute performance tips like
“Don’t forget about embouchure!”
“Use good technique!”
Wouldn’t it be great if they remembered to add just one more? “Have fun!” Yamaha Master Educator Richard Floyd thinks so. I recently had an opportunity to chat with Mr. Floyd about his distinguished career and his best performance tips for music students. It was an enlightening conversation!
A Little Bit About Richard Floyd
Richard Floyd recently retired as State Director of Music at the University of Texas at Austin and now holds the title of UIL State Director of Music Emeritus. He is the musical director and conductor of the Austin Symphonic Band. He started his 55-year career as a junior high and high school music educator and conductor before moving on to the collegiate level.
Mr. Floyd coordinated secondary school music competitions for some 3500 performing organizations throughout Texas for 29 years. He is a recognized authority on conducting and music advocacy, often sharing his expertise as a clinician, adjudicator, and evaluator. His latest book, The Seven Deadly Sins of Music Making published by GIA Publications, was released to critical acclaim earlier this year. Additionally, he is part of a select group of Yamaha Master Educators.
Clearly, Richard Floyd knows music performance and competition. As a well-respected expert in his field, I was anxious to get the insider scoop on things like competition dos and don’ts or his best performance tips for music students. Frankly, I was surprised by his candid responses! There was not one word about the notes, rhythms, or playing in tune.
Best Performance Tips for Music Students
Richard summed up decades of competition and performance experience quite simply:
Competitions and shows can be nerve-wracking, stressful experiences for both students and directors. Remember to find the joy in sharing and making music (it’s what got you started down this path in the first place!)
Strive to be in the moment.
Don’t overthink what has happened or what is about to happen. Focus on the ‘here and now’ – it’s your moment to shine brightly!
Know going in that there is no such thing as a perfect performance.
You may play the wrong note, miss a step, or bobble a rhythm. It’s important how you react to your mistakes and recover from them. Don’t allow them to derail your entire performance.
One of the most important take-aways from our conversation came while we chatted about my son’s deep, emotional connection to music. It feeds his soul and shapes him as a musician. While he embraces the technical skills that help him improve, he also plays for the joy it gives him.
A Tip to Remember
I could hear Richard smiling through the phone as he listened. He then responded “That’s because it’s possible to have craft without art but it is impossible to have art without craft. You must have both to make music!” Wow! That’s a tip to remember!
As performance season gets underway (even if it’s virtual!), cut yourself a break. Accept that perfect performances don’t exist, enjoy your moment in the spotlight, and HAVE FUN! Bring joy and inspiration to those with whom and for whom you are playing…. Keeping time does help as well 😉