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Preparation for brass band competitions starts years ahead of competition day, and the preparation continues until the moment your band steps onstage. Regular daily personal practice helps develop the playing skills needed to excel for performance day. Only consistent, organized group practice can effectively prepare a band to perform together well at brass band competitions. On competition day, it is also important to calm down and focus before a performance to reduce the chance of severe performance anxiety.
Judges at brass brand competitions expect bands to look like a cohesive performance group. Stage wear should be planned and color coordinated for maximum visual appeal. Decide what to wear early to make sure everyone gets a chance to purchase outfits and make any necessary alterations needed to ensure a comfortable and fashionable fit. Ensure that clothes fit in a way that does not restrict the player's breathing or movement. Before the competition, conduct a dress rehearsal to uncover and iron out possible wardrobe problems.
Do not overwork yourself on your musical instrument during the few days prior to the competition. The band and players should practice, but the practice sessions should be focused on small details, like using consistent intonation, playing at a good volume, and performing rhythms perfectly. Do not make any changes to the songs as they are being performed unless absolutely necessary. For a trumpet player, this is probably the time to stick to the lower octave on that super high note to save the lips for the competition. A busted lip at this point in preparation for a competition can be devastating.
Learn the performance schedule for your band, including warm-up time and onstage time. While waiting to go onstage at brass band competitions, keep your instrument and body warm and ready for play. For horn players, this means keeping the mouthpiece of the horn in a warm pocket and using lip-buzzing exercises to keep blood flowing to the lips. If the wait to go onstage is long or the room is cold, it may be necessary to blow air silently through the instrument to warm it up. Mentally review the musical notation of any sections or passages that still give you a hard time, and quietly finger the notes on your instrument.
Right before you walk onstage at brass band competitions, the best thing to do is get control of your mental state and calm down. Be friendly and light with your bandmates, who are most likely as nervous as you are. All of the hard work is behind you, and if you relax, the performance can be the easy and fun part. When you have properly prepared for the brass band competitions you attend, you should have a feeling that you have done everything you can to perform at the highest level possible.
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