Alison’s Performance Tips

This is a work in progress, I’ll add things as they come up…

Playing Background Music

  • People don’t often applaud background music – BUT that doesn’t mean they’re not listening, or that they’re not enjoying it! It’s just how background music works – the music will drift in and out of people’s consciousness while they talk and eat/drink, and they may not immediately notice the end of a set in time to applaud.
  • So, don’t be put off by the ‘awkward’ silence at the end of a set. It’s not awkward – it’s a palate-cleanser, a moment to absorb the piece you’ve just played, and to start thinking about the piece coming next (with a new key signature, time signature, speed, etc).

Playing Outdoors

  • Don’t worry about how quiet the band might sound to you (especially outdoors) – it might seem like no one can hear you in the audience, but from the stage you can’t be sure what it sounds like ‘out front’ (and this isn’t something you can change anyway). I know it’s unnerving, but just assume that they can in fact hear every note, and play with your usual confidence!
  • TAKE CLOTHES PEGS!!! At least 2 per person. I also use masking tape to tape my music folder to the music stand (then peg the individual pages).


It’s hard to do when you’re concentrating and looking at your music, so how about a smile when:

  • You get to a really good bit of the music!
  • The hard part of the piece is over
  • The hard part is over AND it went well!
  • You (or the person next to you) plays a particularly beautiful bum note
  • You reach a particularly easy bit (phew!)
  • A Newark Park peacock upstages you all by strutting in front of the band
  • You have a few bars rest and fancy a little face stretch
  • You happen to look up and catch a band member or audience member’s eye
  • You remember that there might be some cake for you when you finish playing