From my own experiences I gave them helpful advice on things I knew they would never think of otherwise. No hand or arm jewelry, no long, floppy sleeves, no long dangling earrings—you’d be amazed how much motion you can get in those things.
Carry a small absorbent cloth when you go out, something you can wrap your hand around easily, and keep it on the piano bench next to you, on the side away from the audience. Nervous hands can sweat more than you ever dreamed possible.
Practice bowing. A perfect performance can be marred by a beautiful young woman who looks like one of the plastic birds perched on the edge of a cup bouncing its beak up and down into the water, or by the loopy, big-eyed look of a young man trying to watch the audience while he bows--always make your eyes find the floor space between your feet to avoid that.
Practice with your formal clothes on, including jewelry and shoes. Pedaling can turn into a nightmare with the wrong shoes, and jackets that are tight across the back can impede motion and ruin a beautiful piece of music.
The last two weeks, always practice your pieces in the order you plan to play them. It can be disorienting when you are already nervous and an ear that is used to one order suddenly hears it all in another. During the last week, close every practice session with one complete run-through, never stopping for an error, but training yourself to cover the best you can.
Finally, have at least two dress rehearsals, including walking on and off (in the same direction you will that night), bowing, taking curtain calls, and announcing an encore. Professional performers don’t need these things, of course, but once-in-a-life-timers do. The silliest things can trip you up if you are not prepared for them.
Wouldn’t it be great if we had dress rehearsals for life? We could try out different ways of handling problems and choose the best. We could correct our mistakes or find clever ways to hide them. We could plan ahead for every possible eventuality and even choose the order of events.
No, we don’t get a run-through. We seldom get second chances. Most of the time our mistakes are open for all to see, and we must live with the consequences.
But there is a life manual and there are good people to advise you. It is not always necessary to learn things on your own—which usually means “the hard way.” In fact, the Bible says only a “fool” insists on learning in that manner. Smart people listen to those who have been there before. They can tell you that a clunky shoe can slip off a pedal with a noisy thunk in the middle of your soft, cantabile passage. They can warn you about heavy cuff links clicking on the keys. They can remind you to always make sure the hem of your formal gown is NOT under your heels before you stand up!
Actually, they will be telling you about other things—things which can make your life a whole lot easier if you will just listen. It’s the closest thing to a dress rehearsal you will ever get. Make good use of it.
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice. Where there is no counsel, purposes are disappointed; but in the multitude of counselors they are established. Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future, Prov 12:15; 15:22; 19:20.