Any time you sit down in the practice room or rehearsal hall, take a minute and ask yourself a few questions …
1) Is this new? The music may not be new, but your performance of it is (or should be). If the music is new, then sell it. There’s no room for same-old-same-old in music. It’s either new or it’s not worth the time and money to listen to it.
2) Am I copying or imitating? Yes, imitation is the greatest form of flattery, but copying is lazy. In any piece of music we need to find our own musical voice in performance. Take the things you like from other performances, but don’t forget to add your own touch.
3) Why should someone care? Sure you like this music—now you have to convince the audience they should like it too. This may mean doing some research on the piece or finding a way to play the familiar so it doesn’t sound quite so familiar.
4) Is this risky? If it is, you’re on the right track. Everyone knows what a “safe” performance sounds like. Take a risk, push the envelope.
5) Where’s the music? Don’t get caught playing notes on a page. If we’re going to call ourselves musicians, let’s make sure we’re making music.