Taking Time vs. Wasting Time

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I love an actor who takes their time. They know what needs to be done, and they take the actual time it takes to do it well. They project a sense of confidence by giving up the need to speed through the introductions or rush the conversation with the accompanist or run out of the room as they exit. As a result, as the person behind the table, I feel taken care of. I stop checking the clock because I know the actor has got it under control.

Take your time. It is good for everyone.

An actor who wastes their time, however? Well, that’s a different story. Actors waste their time when they are unprepared. They finish their first piece and we ask, “What else do you have?” “Umm… let me see…” And then we sit through them turning every single page in their book. Or they arrive at the piano to talk to the accompanist, and then they talk through all 16 of their 16 bars. As a result of this lack of preparation, I get concerned about the time and become acutely aware that we are running behind.

“But, Jen, you aren’t being fair. When this happens to me, it is because I am nervous, not because I’m unprepared. I am off book. My material is ready to go. I am prepared.”

I hear you. And with love, I push back. Preparation is about more than the material.

If you have not put fail-safes in place to help you when you are nervous, then you have not adequately prepared.

Take responsibility for your preparation. If you know your memory goes out the window when you are nervous, don’t expect yourself to be able to rattle off your other song choices by memory. Create a table of contents. If you know your ability to set a clean tempo is nonexistent when you are nervous, buy a metronome app and listen to the click before you enter the room.

Part of being prepared is knowing how you handle stress and taking the steps you need to take to show up as the best version of yourself.

What can you do to better prepare yourself and take your time?