Performance Tips from a Young Pianist: Emilia Poma

How do some kids manage to perform flawlessly in front of crowds of strangers?

I happened to come across a young girl who seems to be quite comfortable at performing.

Emilia Poma is younger than today’s typical performer– she’s twelve, currently studying at music school Lilla Akademien in Stockholm.

Emilia’s had lots of experience onstage already, having performed with lots of different people all over the world.

Emilia’s performances reflect her bright personality and mindset. (Plus, her name is a cute ‘apple’, pomme, in French.)

Below, Emilia shares her prep routine and her tips on performing.

Emilia on Dealing with Nervousness, Anxiety, and Mistakes While Performing

“… I go on stage…
I fix the chair to the right height and take two more deep breaths.
Then I put my hands on the frozen keys…”

I get as much practice and as many lessons as I need before the concert.

The second way to be less nervous is to understand if it is a practice concert at school, with only a few people in the audience, or if it a big and important concert with a lot of people in the audience.

For the practice concerts at school, I am not very nervous. But, when it comes to big concerts. I am extremely nervous.

So, before I go on stage, I take big deep breaths. When I am that nervous, I shake and feel sick and wish that I had just finished playing.

Then I go on stage…
I fix the chair to the right height and take two more deep breaths.
Then I put my hands on the frozen keys. My hands shake on the white and black keys.

Then I start playing.

I always try to stay concentrated and not think “I hope I don’t make a mistake here” or “Let it be over soon” because I’ll have a bigger chance of making a mistake if I think like that.

If I make a mistake, like when I hit the wrong key or forget the part I was playing, I feel my face burn with embarrassment.

“[N]o matter how many mistakes I make or how big they were, I always stand up straight and proud with a big smile on my face.”

Luckily, nobody notices my mistakes because if I forget the part, I jump back back to the easiest place and keep going, or I make up a few notes and keep going from where the mistake happened.

After playing, no matter how many mistakes I make or how big they were, I always stand up straight and proud with a big smile on my face.

Emilia’s Creativity Habits

The habits that help my creativity are:

  1. Painting – If my mind is full of piano things like notes, fingerings, tempos and more, make me feel like my head will explode! I need a break; otherwise I get very frustrated.
    Painting helps my head get off the piano and let go of everything around me. When I go back to the piano I feel free and remember everything because I let it sink into my head.
  2. Sports, playing with my brother or friends, and composing helps in the same way as painting.

Emilia’s Practice Schedule

I practice 3 hours a day , even during school. I usually try to do an hour before school, an hour after school and and hour at home.

During the summer, I practice for an hour when I wake up, one after lunch and one in the afternoon (or whenever I feel like it). If I am going somewhere fun with my friends then I try to do all of it by 2pm.

On a Pianist’s Ultimate Must-Have Skill

If there were one ultimate must-have skill for pianists it would be discipline.

To me discipline means :

  • Creativity – To follow your ideas all the way from the beginning to the end. Like composing, you might hear it in your head but then you have to write it down and play it!
  • Concentration – To know what you’re working on and stick to it.
  • Practice – If you don’t practice, it’ll be impossible to reach your goals! Just keep going even if it is not so fun sometimes.
  • Never give up – There are times when piano can be a real big pain and you feel that you can’t take it anymore but that feeling goes away in time; you need to keep going no matter how hard it is. You will feel great after you have done it.
  • Plan – In order to get anywhere, you need a plan to structure the time you are willing to put in for practicing.

Thanks, Emilia! You can check out Emilia’s playing through her Youtube channel and follow her journey there.

2 Comments

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  • Emilia Poma August 13, 2012 at 11:45 am

    Thank you super much for this article. I love it!
    Emilia Poma

    • Grace August 15, 2012 at 4:14 pm

      No problem. Glad to hear that you like it! :)