Unprepared for a Concert or Audition: Check out the Tips to Survive

Unprepared for a Concert or Audition: Learn How to Survive

We will all encounter this situation many times in our career. We can either let stress eat us up or learn how to enjoy the roller coaster. Do your best, get through the performance, and prepare better the next time. If you can't, develop the skills to sight read and survive.

Leave a comment below about your strategies and thoughts and contact me with any questions!

-Coach Cory

3 Things I Learned From My First Professional Performance

3 Things I Learned From My First Professional Performance

It was a cold day in New York City and I headed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for my first performance as a professional. This was my life now. No school, no safety nets, just real, real consequences. How did I feel? 

Photo Credit: Mark Kingsley

Photo Credit: Mark Kingsley

I felt pressure from every angle. I had to learn new repertoire in a short amount of time, perform with musicians who I had never performed with before, and deal with a new identity.

Let's break down repertoire. We all know the feeling of being underprepared. It isn't peaceful. It's like your brain goes into intense survival mode...Ok...just trying to come in right, play the right notes, and if possible, follow the composers directions to at least appear musical.

This was no good for my confidence.

Then the whole chemistry thing...I just met my colleagues under a week ago and now I have to understand their body language, playing style, and energy. Oh, and they already knew the repertoire so they would know when I messed up.

This was no good for my confidence.

And last but not least, I viewed myself as a student. How does that make me feel among seasoned professionals and critics? Totally inferior. It's time to play pianissimo.

I began unpacking in the green room with mixed emotions. On one hand, I was actually really excited. This has been what I was working for my whole life and the moment was finally here! However, excitement always quickly evaporates in the face of anxiety. Yep, the guy who has been coaching musicians for the past 4 years is getting nervous. Hypocritical? Possibly, but it wasn't my first performance experience so I knew exactly what to do. Here was my breakdown of how I survived and launched into my professional career with success. 

1) Identify emotions immediately

My heart was pumping and I started to retreat into my shell. I quickly told myself that I'm nervous. Now I do this for a couple reasons. The first is the fact that if I lied to myself, I would not allow myself to move on from that emotion. The second is the fact that it's part of my pre-performance routine which involves identifying how I'm truly feeling and proceeding to a mental state of optimal performance level. 

2) I acknowledged I was nervous and then...

I literally started shouting reaffirming statements to myself. For example, I reminded myself that this was NOT my first performance, this was NOT the first time I've had to perform underprepared, they HIRED ME for a reason, and I WILL SURVIVE. Now this may seem ridiculous, but honestly getting nervous is ridiculous. A lot of times to change your state of mind you have to do crazy things that are outside the box. This is why passive techniques aren't always the solution. 


This particular performance was all about survival. I always advocate that you should enjoy the stage but you earn that right through hard work, patience, and experience. Here I was with no previous professional experience, new repertoire, and new colleagues. It wasn't a setup that would allow for complete freedom on stage like at a recital where you have plenty of time to prepare. So I knew in order to walk away satisfied from this performance, I crammed my intonation, rhythm, and musical practice right up until the performance.


From what I wrote, it wasn't my best performance experience. I was not completely free on stage because I was so tied to managing the performance. However, I view this performance as a key point in my career. This was my first professional performance and I played decently. It gave me the confidence to take on the next performance with just a tad more confidence. I was on my way to becoming a master performer and actually identifying myself as a professional musician.

Good luck in your upcoming performance!

-Coach Cory


Stage Fright Guide: Imagine Success

Stage Fright Guide: Imagine Success

Developing your imagination is not only crucial for your creativity, but also for your confidence. There is a reason that performers across all fields develop the skill of imagery and visualization. Learn these skills to help you manage a performance and walk on stage with control!

Leave a comment below about your experiences with imagery or opinions and contact me with any questions!

-Coach Cory

How To Win A Professional Audition

How To Win A Professional Audition

Hey all!

Coach Cory from Liberated Performer here and I wanted to break down how I managed to win my dream job in 10 bullet points.

1) Hard Work

Winning an audition is a reflection of all your past hard work and dedication. To prepare for my college auditions, I woke up at 4am, practiced during class breaks, and after school. Throughout Juilliard and Yale, I woke up early before theory class, practiced during class breaks, and again after rehearsals. I ended up averaging six hours for 9 years straight minus about 20 days a year. That's some serious momentum into my professional audition.

Side note: It wasn't until I learned how to overcome anxiety that all those practice hours finally paid off in performances and auditions.

2) Matching Today's Standard

The bottom line is I knew I had to play close to what the "standard" is. Do I need to be the best technical or most musical player? Ideally, but not practical. However, I made sure I was good enough. To determine what was good enough, I observed musicians who were winning competitions and auditions and asked how do I stack up against them? What do I still need to develop and reinforce? Once I felt comfortable at that level, I entered auditions not for experience, but to win them.

3) Walking in with Intense Value

The world is super competitive so I asked myself what value do I offer in an audition? All too often I couldn't answer that because I was just playing the same pieces as everyone else at relatively the same level. With this in mind, I started looking for other ways of offering more value to the organization I was targeting. Fast forward a couple years after the development of Liberated Performer and I walked into my audition as both a performer and as a coach for music performance anxiety. This ended up being very helpful. What extra value do you offer?

4) Understanding Patience Vs. Speed

I valued speed on the day to day level and patience for my overall career. For example, once I learned something in my lesson, I practiced it immediately to make it a habit. I could never wait around and let time pass by. I had to be consistent and feel a bit of urgency because the sooner I engrained a skill, the sooner it would be leverage in my audition and the sooner I can develop another skill. But what about patience? I used patience for my overall career development. While opportunities weren't presenting themselves on a regular basis, I stayed calm and continued on course. Eventually, an opportunity presented itself and I went after it with full force. 

5) Acknowledging Chemistry

In the long run, I knew I needed to find a good fit artistically and personally if I wanted to be truly satisfied even though at such a young stage in my career I would accept any professional position. So I asked myself, who and what am I auditioning for? Which opportunities empower me as an artist, match my personality, artistic vision, and allow growth? Once I answered this, I was able to identify auditions ideal for me and walk in there with that extra boost of confidence knowing I could relate to my potential colleagues. 

6) Creating Support

On the day to day level I previously mentioned you have to work hard and quick. Another aspect of that day to day level is assessing your environment of support. Here is the big question for you... Are your family, friends, significant others, teachers, and peers helping you along your journey or are they holding you back? If they are holding you back, how can you address this? While the answers may be tough to face, it's vital to solve. For example, I dropped negative influences, those that held me back, and replaced them with people who made me better and believed in me. I attribute all my success to those who are in my life.

7) Staying in the Moment

Auditioning for my dream job was not easy. I tended to think about the what if's. What if I win this? What if I mess up and ruin my entire career? Thoughts like these took me out of the moment. However, in pressure situations, I learned to focus on what I was trained to do, trust myself, and execute at the highest level. It's easier said then done.

8) The Logistics

I prepared years in order to put myself in a opportunistic situation like an audition. The last thing I needed to have happen is get lost on the way to the venue. This might sound silly, but the day of stress can really hamper an optimal audition mindset. I made sure I got there in plenty of time, had everything I needed, slept, and ate well. 

9) Leveraging My Strengths

In times of competition, I always forgot about my strengths and only focused on my weaknesses due to insecurity. However, I realized that an audition was actually a time to put my best self forward. Therefore, I reassured a couple of awesome qualities in myself which allowed me to have a bit of confidence to cling onto during the pressure situation.  

10) Addressing My Weaknesses

My biggest weakness was getting nervous at auditions. My playing level would literally drop to about 70% of my potential and it was a huge set back. In fact, it was such a huge set back that I contemplated quitting the violin. However, if classical music teaches you one thing, it's that you can conquer anything through discipline, education, intensity, and patience. Therefore, I developed Liberated Performer, the full-fledged program to defeating music performance anxiety and turned my greatest weakness into my greatest strength. What that did to my confidence still empowers me today. So, what is your weakness and how can you downright dominate it to turn it into your strength?

11) Luck

I am not in control of how the judges are feeling that day. I am not in control of how other competitors are auditioning. I am only in control of my preparation process. 


These are a few of my pointers and they, of course, do not apply to all audition scenarios as it differs from organization to organization. However, do your research, maintain a positive attitude, and keep working with a tenacity and eventually, you'll find yourself close or in your dream situation. It sounds like a lot of work to get there but it's definitely worth it in the end. Music and performing is simply awesome. 

What's your audition experience like? Leave a comment below.

-Coach Cory