Concentration is an oft forgotten skill which is required during performance AND practice. One cannot expect to be able to concentrate or focus fully while performing if one’s practice has been erratic and lacking in mental discipline and purpose. We all have those voices in our heads that interrupt our serenity and confidence. It is the ability to return constantly to the task at hand which is what we need to achieve. Some people use meditation outside of the musical work which is helpful to quiet these distractions.
I advise students to have a performance ritual so that every time one begins to play whether in a practice room or performance, one uses the same “mental entrance” into our task at hand. What’s the charater of the piece of music? How’s my posture? What part of the bow am I in? Am I breathing?
The complexity of playing our instrument and delivering a moving thoughtful performance requires us to be monitoring what we just played, hearing what we are currently performing, and shaping the future phrases and sonority. Being able to remain primarily in the present is the real challenge and offers the most benefits.
Spending practice time not just working on the notes, fingerings, bowings, dynamics, is crucial. Mental practice will address all of these elements and improve concentration. Practice without ones instrument in hand can be a beneficial supplement. Mental run throughs are draining and difficult but can offer great dividends. Practice letting go of the chatter of your own doubts and insecurities. This can free up your ability to concentrate. Accomplishing this in the practice room first is a major step in reducing mental clutter on stage!