May 8, 2006 at 1:35 AMI should have put half of my students under metronome arrest today. I saw tempos at the recital that I'd never seen before, tempos that I didn't know were humanly possible!
Here's what I learned from my own performance:
1. Don't use the music if you've memorized it! I sacrificed 3/4 of my performance stumbling with distracting notes in front of me, just to secure two measures I was afraid I'd forget. A memory lapse would have been more excusable than the way I played today with the music. Once I hit the cadenza, I said to-heck-with-it and played the ending by memory and nailed it.
2. Bow quivers are negligible in a large room. I have proof; I recorded it. (No one will ever hear that recording, though!) I performed on a new stick today, a Bigot that I bought from Gennady Filimonov after visiting him in Seattle. It was my birthday present, and I got it just in time for the recital. The action is more lively and stiffer, and very clean and articulate. Unfortunately, my nerves went straight into my bow, and I wasn't used to its reaction, which only made it worse. Fortunately, I think it forgave a lot of my bowing sins. It's a very tidy bow. Reminds me of Ivory soap.
3. The way you sound up close is completely different that the way you sound in a hall. As badly as I played, when I listened to it afterward, I was amazed at the phrasing and articulation that sounded so smooth and crisp, when at home I played much better and sounded much worse (when recorded up close). Dynamics were also much more pronounced.
My students really pulled it together. A word of advice to all performers: don't make faces or utterances of disgust, and don't stop cold and try to fix something that's already gone. Keep moving forward. Most people would never notice. How you deliver it either makes or breaks the performance.
It was a real treat to see them all putting out their best effort. I wish I could make them understand that they can all be proud of themselves for their courageous effort, even if they missed a note or two.
Finally, I want to publicly acknowledge my husband George, who has been going nonstop since I got up this morning, making everything flow seamlessly and reducing my stress level.
I can't believe all that we did today... Glad it's over.
My first recital is next week. My performance in the rehearsals so far has been dismal. Playing beside other cellists who far exceed my capabilities causes me to lose my intonation. My fingers just can't find those ringing tones that I get at home :(
Wish me (and my teacher) luck!
It is so true that the manner of delivery really makes or breaks the performance. I'm glad you reminded us of this. Stopping does ruin delivery and also makes it impossible to play with others. Some people are very critical of themselves and stop after a tiny error. I've been told that after making a mistake, you should just keep going and make the same mistake the same way on the repeat. The audience will not know that it was a mistake.
I haven't recorded myself at all, but interesting observations about up-close and far-away.
I too hated recitals as a kid, and have no intention of ever subjecting myself to something like that again. But I really do like hearing other people play.
Thanks for your (always interesting) observations.
After the recital, a 3-year-old whose sisters are currently taking from me approached the piano. The mom said, "She really likes to pick things out on the piano." Her hands were so tiny she moved them like a gymnist doing a floor routine, crossing over and hopping from high to low, her seat scooting across the bench. She played Alouette by ear, with harmony.
I want her!
I hope you will get to work with the harmonizing youngster-- you would have a special task for yourself preserving the quality and joy of those ears of hers. Fun! Good luck...
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