Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Vulnerability of Performance

 A few days ago my students and I participated in a piano recital. There is something so very vulnerable about playing the piano in front of a crowd. I have been doing it since I was eight but yet every solo performance I have a moment of wanting to back out, even to this day. 

  There are so many facets of our selves which are in view when we perform. Not only is our physical agility evident but our ability to focus, our gift to express feelings through music, and our self-consciousness is open for all to see. 
"Why would you choose to perform if it is so unpleasant?", my son asked. 
  Now that is such a great question. Perhaps it is that when we can open ourselves up whole-heartedly to the music we have come to live and breathe, it is an amazing high.

   During rehearsal M., age 5, balked as I explained that I wanted him to tell the audience his name and the names of his pieces. 
    "I can't," he said, "I'm shy." 
     It was his first recital so I offered to stand with him in front of the group. 
     "It wasn't that bad." he said after with a broad grin. 

   There in a nutshell is the reason to perform frequently. We can learn that our fears are not that real. Coming through a gut-wrenching experience can build hope that we are growing and changing. If we falter the lesson is still important. Perhaps we should have prepared better, or perhaps we learned that life goes on after a stressful event, or best, that we made music come alive and people enjoyed it.

   For the teacher, sitting on the sidelines, the event is emotional. I know too well what could happen. I see their legs shake, their hearts race, and their hands stiffen with cold. I send them bushels of love and hold them together with teacher energy. Then I clap and whisper that they were fabulous and feel privileged to know them in their most vulnerable hour.  It is exhausting, but so worth the effort.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Recital Tips

Dear Parents,
   It is a few days before the recital and perhaps I can pass on a few tips to the handful of new students playing for the first time. And for those of you who have attended year after year, thank-you for preparing your pianist and making the recital an important event.

   I look at performing at a recital as pay back time. When we play for our families we show honor for the money invested in our progress and give joy to a whole room of people. It is not easy to support a child for years of practice with the hope that they hang in long enough to master an instrument. I try to point out to my students how fortunate they are to have an opportunity to learn and be encouraged on all fronts.
   You can prepare your child by talking positively about their performance and give them many small recitals at home. Some students will feel anxious and vulnerable. Please don't deny their honest feelings but talk about how performing only gets easier when you do it. Mistakes happen and they are allowed without recriminations. I try to create a relaxed atmosphere at the recital and most students come through splendidly. You don't need to come early since adrenaline mounts just before, but arriving on time helps to ease tension.
   May I suggest that you look over the program with your child and note if they recognize any of the pieces. Perhaps you can point out some pieces that they should really listen to so that their attention moves to the performance of other students.
  After the recital we share treats in the hall behind the chapel and this is a time when each student can come down from the high of performance. Again, they may want to give some praise and feedback to other performers whose pieces inspired them.
  I feel so lucky to have a venue where I am not obligated to pay a fee for rental. This allows me to make the recital free of charge for you.
  You may want to look at some pictures of past recitals on the archived blog posts labeled Recital Time.
   See you at the big event!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

January Recitals

  It has been ages since I posted. I am still around and madly teaching, or teaching madly, I don't know which. News from my studio includes the fact that I moved my recitals from November to January. The jury is still out about whether that is better. This year the big draw is the music to the Sherlock theme from PBS.

  I have a student playing three themes from this series in one recital and in the other recital I will play a medley of Hero's theme from Sherlock with the main theme from Downton Abbey and a small segment from Mrs. Darcy from the Pride and Prejudice movie. They all seem to be in the same key and one moves well into the other.

   Hero's theme is lively and full of mysterious intrigue, while Downton Abbey moves and flows, which brings to mind the changes in from WWI-WW2 in England. Ending with Dario Marianelli's Mrs. Darcy actually takes us backward in time but back to a romantic ending.

                                                      I am paying homage to the English movies I love to see.

   You can find all this music on where I search often. Thank-you, Musicnotes for making my life easier.