If you have an organ recital to play, here is how your practice on the day of it might look like:
(Optional) On another instrument: in slow motion, and with soft registration, play the most challenging parts of each piece. You might be tempted to do a run-through at concert speed just to make sure you can play the program well, but I don't recommend it.
Without the instrument on the table or sitting in a chair: do a run-through at half speed while imagining how it might sound in your head.
On the instrument of the recital: check registrations and stop changes and practice a little in a slow tempo the difficult pieces of the recital. If you have enough time on this instrument, you can play the entire program at one third of the speed.
Whatever you do on the day of the recital, avoid overburning yourself with loud registrations, dramatic performance and concert tempo as this might affect your general state of mind later when you need the top level of focus.
On the day of the recital I like to practice with a feeling that I'm watching someone else play and focus for the real thing which is to come soon.
I'm not talking here about the situation when you barely know your program and there are lots and lots of places which still need to be mastered. Then you have to do whatever it takes to get at least a decent feeling of the program in general (obviously multiple repetitions of short fragments in a slow tempo are unavoidable here). My above advice is for people who did all the homework on time.
However, the decisive moment is the recital itself. You may feel great and refreshed but your performance can go quite poorly. Likewise, you can be very tired, exhausted and even sick, but if you have the right mental attitude, it can be the best recital you played in your whole life (so far).
I've been in all of these situations. My guess is that we need all of them just to prepare for real life. Sometimes you don't have any time to practice before the recital at all (that's a scary thought). But if you survive these difficult performances, every one of them will make you stronger.
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
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