A performance is short, and we as musicans have very little time to make an impact on the audience. Performing is more than just those brief moments on the stage, but rather includes the whole experience of preparing mentally and physically right before stepping out to play. Reflecting back on some of my better performances, I realized that there is a certain performance mentality that I was able to achieve.
At the beginning of a performing evening, the adrenaline builds up until the actual performance. I like to think of this as excitment for what is to come rather than thinking of it as nerves. I thinks this helps to bring a better mentality to the actual performance. In the minutes just before the concert, it is important of course to be physically warmed up, but possibly even more important to transition mentally from the stresses of everyday life into the performing mentality. In this mentality, it is important to realize that it is the composers message you are trying to preserve, not your own personal struggles from that day. Be prepared, no matter how tired you are, to put all of your emotional and physical energy into creating best intention into every note. I always like to refelct on why I am donig this performance before i head out on stage. I like to remind myself how passionate I am for my craft, and how I perform for my own enjoyment, as well as that of the audience. No matter how much you have practiced, you can never be fully prepared. Go to a performance knowing that you have prepared as much as possible, and be ready to invest your energy into making this a very music performance. Trust that the technical work you have done will come through because you spent the time to solidify it.
It may seem silly, but the most important part of the performing mentality is to realize that you are actually about to perform. Especially if you perform often, a comcert can start to seem everyday and trivial. A performance is a short escape from everything else in your life where time seems to stand still. Take a deep breath, walk onto the stage, and do your best. Do your best to preserve the intention of the music, you best to be technically accurate, do you best to enjoy the short time you have on stage!