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Sage Music Performance Guidelines

How to put on performances that are enjoyable for you and your audience.

How to ACT in music performance.

Performing music can be an extremely fun and rewarding experience if you are well prepared.

But it can also be a nerve-wracking, discouraging experience if you are not 100% ready.

Our performance guidelines make sure our events and your performances are a success. As a result, everyone in attendance will have a great time, and you’ll actually look forward to performing!

Let’s start by learning about the two levels of performance.

Developing and Expressive Performances

At Sage Music, there are two standards for performance.

  • Developing Performances (ACT)
  • Expressive Performances (ACT-E)

A Developing Performance is where you keep your mind, body, and music under control in front of a live audience.

Expressive Performance is where you stay under control, but also play with artistry and expression in front of a live audience.

We’ve created an acronym to help you remember the standards: ACT-E.

The Sage Music ACT-E Performance Standards

In any music performance, performers should always ACT well. That is, they demonstrate Accuracy, Confidence, and Technical Control.

  • Accuracy. The student performs the rhythms, pitches (including intonation), dynamics and articulations as written. They play the music accurately.

    Accuracy results when a student has a clear understanding and memory of the music they are performing.

  • Confidence. The student is confident and is not excessively nervous. He or she has a belief that they will perform well and has positive feelings about performing.

    Confidence results when a student is well prepared. Getting there can take more effort than some realize. But it’s better to be over-prepared than underprepared.

  • Technical Control. The student plays with technical control, good posture, and a healthy and efficient technique. They use their body well.

    Technical control results when the student understands how to use their body properly, and develops good habits of movement through regular practice.

You’ll notice that these developing standards relate to a positive use of your mind, body, and spirit – maintaining positive feelings around performing music. It’s a holistic approach to music performance that your Sage Music teachers will help you to develop.

Developmental Performance – playing with Accuracy, Confidence, and Technical Control (ACT) – is the minimum standard for all Sage Music performances.

However, students should advance to Expressive Performance (ACT-E) as soon as possible. This is where performances become really exciting!

In Expressive Performance, students exhibit Accuracy, Confidence, and Technical Control plus artistic Expressiveness (ACT-E).

  • Expressiveness. The student plays the music with musical, artistic, or emotional expressiveness in front of a live audience. They communicate something more than “just playing the notes”.

    Expressiveness results when a student knows a piece well enough through Development Performance that they have the ability to concentrate on artistry and to connect with the audience.

How do I know if I am ready to perform?

It’s easy. Make sure you understand the ACT-E standards. And then take our Performance Ready Quiz!

If you meet the minimum ACT standards, we invite you to perform on any informal performance such as our

  • Open Mic
  • Student Sharing Hour
  • Studio Classes

Our informal performances are wonderful opportunities to practice performing before you hit the stage for real! Remember that performing is a skill that needs to be developed, and that you likely won’t do it well without practice.

We encourage you to perform a piece multiple times in informal settings to develop ACT-E standards before you try it on a recital, recording, or other public performance.

And we recommend that you meet ACT-E standards for any more formal performance.


Our recitals have a higher standard of performance than our informal performances. So to be sure that you are well prepared, you’ll need to qualify for a recital performance.

Here is how the process works:

  • Prepare a piece to ACT or preferably ACT-E standards.
  • Demonstrate you can perform the piece with the minimum ACT standards in any informal performance (Open Mic, Sharing Hour, or Studio Class)
  • Your teacher will approve your piece for the Recital.
  • Attend and perform in the Dress Rehearsal to ACT or preferably ACT-E standards.
  • Perform in a Recital, once approved.

If you cannot or do not play your piece to ACT or ACT-E standards on an informal performance and a Recital Dress Rehearsal, you may

  • Choose a later Recital that gives you more time to prepare
  • Choose a different piece that already meets ACT-E standards

That’s nothing to be disappointed about. As a result, you will have a great experience when you are ready. It’s all part of the experience.

Keep in mind that the Recitals are to show off a polished piece, not a work-in-progress. Audiences think of recitals like any other concert, and they want to hear something great. Your peers want to be inspired by you. And they all want you to do well, too!

You’ll get to workshop your music on the informal performances we offer. That’s the appropriate place for works-in-progress.

Avoiding Stage Fright in Performances

The last thing we want is for you to have a poor performance.

This is how people develop a fear of performing.

Being underprepared leads them to have a poor performance. And that leads them to believe that they will make errors on their next performance. This kills their confidence, which makes them nervous. The nerves lead to mistakes. And this makes yet another poor performance. Which creates a history of bad performances. And so the cycle continues.

So let’s not do that!

98% of the time stage fright is a result of being underprepared. So it’s easy to fix. Be prepared.

Pro Tip: Don’t prepare a piece of music for a recital or performance. Instead, schedule a performance once your piece is performance ready.

We want and encourage you to perform only when you are prepared. This is how we build a lifetime of happy music making.

So let’s make sure you are prepared. Are you ready?

Be Prepared

Your Sage Music instructor is trained to prepare you so that you are always ready for the ACT. This is so that you can have the best experience possible and focus on the expressive elements of a musical performance.

To be best prepared, we recommend that you practice the right way regularly and take our music practice course, the Sage Student, in addition to your Sage Music Lessons.

In the end, the only way ACT well in a performance, or to perform expressively, is to put in the the right kind of practice. That means practicing your music properly. And that also means practicing performing. You’ve got to do both.

In Person Performances vs. Online Performances

Being prepared to perform is not just about the music. It’s about the environment, too.

For in-person performances, Sage Music will take care of all the details like tuning the pianos, lighting, and sound system.

However, if you are participating in an online performance, you’ll need to take care of your own environment.

Online Performances

Your Space

  • Select a quiet space
  • Make sure your space is clean and organized


  • Be in a well lit space – you are the star of the show. We want to see you!
  • Keep natural light, like windows, on your face and not at your back.


  • Position yourself in the center of the frame
  • Show your hands on your instrument
  • Don’t point the camera at light sources
  • Don’t put items between you and the camera, like music stands or tables

Examples of good camera views for online performances

Online Camera Setup for Piano Recital
Selene's online recital camera view
Eliana's online performance camera view
Eliana's online performance camera view

All Performances


  • Dress as great as you play
  • Be friendly, be yourself
  • Since you are well prepared, you’ll have all the reasons to smile

Your Gear

  • Instrument
    • Accessories
    • Tuner
    • Valve Oil
    • Reeds
    • Extra Strings
    • Rosin
    • Picks
    • Capo
    • Effect Pedals / Processors
    • Cables
    • Extra Batteries
    • Sticks / Brushes
    • Cymbals
    • Support
    • Strap
  • Music


  • Rock it!
Need help with your setup? Contact us.