As my students and I prepare for our Fall Percussion Concert this Thursday, November 3rd featuring the Clemson Percussion Ensemble, Steel Band, and Drumline, I thought I would share some strategies behind our concert preparation that others might find valuable as they work toward excellence.

After many months of learning, practicing, and cleaning our music; after beginning with the end in mind and having quality rehearsals and sectionals; and after building a performance mindset through visualization, confidence, and mental practice, we are ready for what I call the cold run.

The cold run, or cold run-through, serves as the final step of our preparation process before a concert. First, what the cold run is not. No ensemble warm-up, no reps (repetitions), no hitting problem spots, and certainly no rehearsing for 30 minutes before running the show. Instead, a cold run is a simulation of concert conditions – playing from beginning to end, no stopping, staying in the moment, bowing, executing logistics, and wearing different “hats” for each piece. A cold run is meant to simulate how you will feel when you are fully engaged, focused, excited, and nervous and gives players an experience very similar to what the concert will actually be like.

If you can do some cold runs in the hall or in the same space as your concert, all the better. It is also important for players to develop consistency playing at a high level the first time through a piece, rather than depending on two or three attempts to get warmed-up and into the flow of the rehearsal.

The idea of a cold run is to create as close to the same conditions as the concert, thereby ensuring the concert is never really the first performance. While the audience might think it is, you know in your mind that your preparation has included dozens of “performances” already, behind the closed doors of your rehearsal room.

For more information on the CU Percussion Ensemble, Steel Band, and Drumline concert on Thursday, November 3rd, please visit