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Amber Rollins

Get Back On the Horse

June 4, 2011 at 8:14 AM

My first recital was last Saturday. I wish I could say it was a triumph, but it wasn't. I did learn, though, and that's the important thing.

I didn't realize until two days before the recital that I was going to have to play this with a piano accompaniment. I mean, I'm not stupid; I knew there was one. I just didn't know I would be doing it that way. Having to play with another person threw me. I couldn't take any time to stretch notes for dramatic effect, or any of the cool emotional stuff I was doing when I rehearsed by myself. Now I just had to keep going, as fast as possible, along with the piano.

I was displeased. In fact, I had been asked if I wanted to play with the piano, and I said no.

But my violin teacher really wanted to do it that way, so we had an extra lesson to get it down. But I was still missing things right up to the last minute. So, of course, up in front of a group of people, playing my first solo piece, I made a mistake and lost it with the piano.

I am glad to say, though, that I got back on the horse. i found my spot and kept on going. I didn't cry. Most importantly, I didn't quit.

So, my playing wasn't perfect. But I lived through it. I faced down something I was fearing terribly, and I won. I can also take some comfort in the fact that not one, not two, but four other students decided at the last minute that they were too scared to play and backed out. Others wouldn't even try in the firs place. One of the one who withdrew came to the recital anyway, and described how she had been physically sick all day from nerves. I know the feeling. But I also know the only way to get over it is to do it. And I did!

Now I'm thinking of signing up for a music camp this summer, to get more experience playing with other people and playing in public. I'll have to see how the money goes. But I think that would not only be helpful for me and my playing, but also (dare I say it?) fun.

From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on June 4, 2011 at 4:00 PM

So true... Bravo!  The most important thing is to try...  The more one does the better they become!  Also, it's easy to become shy when it makes a long time one hasn,t been on stage...  ( I learned that last year to my own detriment : )


From Amber Rollins
Posted on June 5, 2011 at 12:06 AM

Thank you. That is so nice to hear. Thanks for the support.

From Ann Marie Cordial
Posted on June 6, 2011 at 11:00 AM

And Amber - depending on the piano player, your experience can be good or bad.  I once played with a pianist who only had two speeds.  Fast and faster.  I felt like I was in Indy 500, racing to get to the end of the piece.

---Ann Marie

From Marianne Hansen
Posted on June 7, 2011 at 5:31 PM

So, since yesterday I turned over and over whether I should comment - because your post is about dealing with fear and not letting mistakes overwhelm you.  And I am really impressed with what you did, and I think it is a great experience for your future playing.  And I wish you all the best.

But - and here's the but - I think your teacher screwed up by insisting you play with a piano when you had not practiced with it.  One, because it is _not_ easy to play with someone else - even if people who do it all the time forget that.  Two, because your practice should be as close to your performance as possible - and I mean a large proportion of your practice, not an emergency extra session two days before performance.  Three, because you indicate that you felt rushed - which means the pianist was not responding to your needs - and it is your recital, not theirs.  Fourth, because if you consider that you have been struggling to learn to hear intervals on the violin and maybe playing with another violin, you will see that the equal-tempered piano is OUT OF TUNE.  So a lot of your hard work to date in finding your notes was cast aside by introducing a - loud - instrument that can only play vaguely different tones than you had been practicing.  I am frankly astonished that it was not a total disaster.

If your instructor thinks that playing with a piano is a valuable skill - and why else would you do it in a recital? - it needs to be part of your regular lessons.  Every week.  Most teachers can play well enough to accompany a beginner.  And you've got to stick up for yourself and help take responsibility for your learning.  Some teachers who teach a lot of kids are inclined to ignore the possible contributions adults can make to their own progress.  One way or another, you need to have a meeting of the minds.  And - I know you can do it!

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