Playing but not Performing

May 22, 2018, 2:26 PM · I've become one of those who plays the violin but I no longer perform, as in play before any kind of audience. Reading many posts I suspect that I'm not alone, some have stage-fright or other aversions. If you play but don't perform what do you do other than play in your studio/practice room?

For me: the reason I don't perform is that I'm no longer a night person and most groups rehearse and often perform at night. I'm in the process of building a small cadre of duet partners who are like me - retired and not really interested in performing for others - just to play with another person and coordinating two schedules is sufficiently difficult. Yeah, I play a lot in my practice room and that is often sufficient unto itself.

I'm not a Glenn Gould, but...

Replies (11)

May 22, 2018, 2:30 PM · I perform a lot, but people who don't perform might be in a non-performing small ensemble or play in an informal jam band.
May 22, 2018, 3:14 PM · A friend said to me that a musician alone is only half a musician!
A whole lot better then nothing, though.
One can invite some friends for dinner without throwing banquet for all and sundry...
May 23, 2018, 4:29 AM · It can be worse: performing but not playing.
May 23, 2018, 4:41 AM · You can always perform to yourself (or the dog or cat ...)
May 23, 2018, 4:42 AM · For me a performance works as a carrot. It makes me focus my practice. Recently my quartet was working with the Ravel quartet. We went on a course and performed the first movement there at the end of the course. But for various reasons (hand surgery for the violist is one) the performance of the whole quartet that we had planned never happened. And I still feel that we are missing something. For me working a piece up to a level I am satisfied with and then not perform it is unfulfilled. Even if the performance makes me nervous it provides some sort of closure.
Edited: May 23, 2018, 4:56 AM · I think for the non-night-owls the idea of getting together with friends to play duets or trios is magnificent. You are practicing, yes, but also performing ... for one another! And I'll bet there are venues (retirement centers, hospitals) that would value daytime "performances" by local musicians. Especially by someone as warm-hearted as George seems to be.

Adrian -- I'd give anything to be half a violinist. :)

May 24, 2018, 12:13 PM · Hi George,

My goals in violin tend towards performance, but when I have a stressful day, just practicing can be a great meditative experience. It can also be kind of a bit of puzzle solving. I tend to both like and dislike the stress of performance, but even though I'm much more of a night person, most of my performing happens early in the day, usually at church. It's not optimum, because I feel like I'm not at my best, but over time it feels more natural. It's also fun to get together with someone and rehearse, without much thought for performing. I think that through playing together, you really tune into who you are playing with in a way that can build nice relationships.

May 24, 2018, 3:04 PM · Interesting responses because none of the people who have indicated that they don't "perform" have not responded.

Paul: Yes, if/when I find that daytime partner and that daytime partner would like to develop a short program for a daytime audience I'd consider that but performing is not my goal. It is more linked to my Doflein development in that my teacher and I played short duets (at least one on each page-turn). That is what I miss. I get to do that with my student but I'd like to do some Mazas, Playel, and others with someone my own age.

Christian: I have done some church playing but our current musician prefers folk music mostly sung a-capella or with his guitar and he doesn't particularly like violin music.

May 25, 2018, 8:31 AM · Lets be straight about this. " I'm no longer a night person and most groups rehearse and often perform at night" is not a reason. It is an excuse. Lots of retired violinists and some teachers are available during the day - so practice sessions are possible. Many organizations love to have volunteers give day time performances, for example retirement homes, senior citizen medical centers, disabled children's centers, substance abuse recovery homes, organized groups of home schoolers, organized or self initiated busker sessions, etc.

Music is a conversation between performers and an audience. It is something to say and something to hear. This situation is about caring enough about music to take some initiative.

May 25, 2018, 10:06 AM · Music is great because it is so diverse that one can do whatever with it to suit one's particular needs, and performance is only one of them. There are plenty music traditions in world and in history where music has been treated as a form of meditation, emotional and spiritual healing primarily for one's own benefit in private settings. It's also a matter of prioritizing one's time and energy. It is not hard to see the attractiveness of playing music for the enrichment of one's inner needs rather than putting oneself out and to share with others or to please the audience.

For me, I took an early retirement to devote myself mainly on violin because it's a path that I choose to enrich my life. I do perform regularly, but I can be equally happy to just work in my studio, with my teacher and/or with a couple of friends without performing.

That said, I find that performances, especially in classical music, is more about the players than the audience because after all the little details have been ironed out, details in most cases would be noticed only by us players, we can really enjoy by putting our fingers on the music we love, and get share it with others again and again. Look at this way, I feel that performance is a player's privilege to get time and attention from other people to our craft and fruit of our passion. As a privilege, we have the freedom when not to take it, but be careful before giving it up because it has taken you years of hard work to earn it. :-)

May 25, 2018, 10:45 AM · For me, the performance is one of the driving forces behind my playing. It gives me a goal. Something to strive toward. I need goals. If my goal were only to play at home I would get some satisfaction from that. Not enough to keep me going though.

If nothing else I would be out in a park or on a sidewalk somewhere playing for passers by.

Having said that, I don't need frequent performance to feel complete. I don't care if it's once every few months. In fact, when given difficult material for me to play I would rather practice and prolong playing in public until I get better.

One of the main benefits for me as a "fiddler" is hearing the way others interpret the music I play.
The only use for written music is as a guide. Irish music isn't played exactly to notation as classical music is. As such there are different ways we can add "swing" or "lilt" to it. I'm just now getting into that concept. Only by playing with others who are familiar with the music can move you forward in that situation.

So even though my "performance" might be in a bar with five other musicians it is very beneficial to me and hopefully some to them.The audience is there for a beer and maybe some music. IOW we probably aren't the main draw. Not even the B act.

Musicians can be tough creatures to get together and all get along sometimes.Finding the right co players can understandably be a challenge depending on where you hail from.

I could also be happy playing for hours in my studio. The occasional outing is a nice addition and something to look forward to.

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