As a performer, you get to spend quite a long time in the waiting room, or as it is commonly known the green room and in time we all develop our green room routines. Although the audience probably doesn’t think much about what happens behind the scenes, to me, as I am sure many other performers too, the wait before the concert is where the performance starts.
Probably for pianists it is different, since we don’t have our instrument with us and even if some green rooms have a piano in them, it is still not the same piano as the one you will be performing on, so I prefer not to use it even if it is there. I guess it would be the same with percussionist players (I don’t think they will have a spare set in the green room, either) and since we do have an increasing number of solo percussion recitals I would quite like to hear from a percussionist about how they spend their time before the concert.
I don’t usually get nervous at the concert, but it is in the green room where I get all the butterflies. The whole ‘waiting’ process before the concert used to be the most uncomfortable experience and it has occurred to me, that despite all the training and years of studying with different experts who have performed on all the major stages, no one ever prepares you for the horrors of the green room. You do get the occasional advice, from eating chocolate to standing in your head, but everyone should have their routines tailored to their specific comfort and with time and experience we all develop our own routines.
Lots of performers have a meal before the concert, but I never bring any food with me, mainly because when I first started performing I used to be too nervous to eat anything and later I felt more comfortable performing if I felt lighter. Although I do have specific nutrition guidelines I follow on the day of the concert – and generally – but that is a topic for another time.
I usually arrive at the venue a few hours before the concert to try out the piano. I will play through the entire programme and make sure that if there is a slip somewhere, I correct it immediately as I don’t want it to become an issue in the concert. After the rehearsal I get another 45 minutes or so before the concert and that’s when I change the clothes and redo my makeup. As I already mentioned, I don’t eat during this time but I do drink a lot of water and sometimes if it is cold I have green tea. As it is mostly cold in the UK I make sure I bring with me a sweater and a large scarf.
Although I exercise regularly, I don’t usually do yoga, but I have learned some breathing exercises to use before the concert. I do these several times during this wait and always just before getting up on stage.
I must admit, my Green Room experience has been greatly improved with the introduction of smartphones. I do send lots of messages to my family members and friends and I do post quite a lot on my facebook and twitter accounts from there. I have not set up the Pinterest yet, but will soon together with Google+ and that will fill up those spare ten odd minutes.