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Corwin Slack

Our performance: a reflection

May 2, 2010 at 3:32 AM

 Tonight I performed the Brahms Piano Quartet No. 3 in C minor. We did at at home. My wife, Andrea, was at the piano, My teacher played cello and a recent master's graduate of the Shepherd School of Music played viola. 

We had an audience of about 20 good friends. 

What went right:

1. We only invited friends

2. We had excellent refreshments catered by the violist's boyfriend. After the program conversation and sociability is always improved by good refreshments. We are an alcohol free home and some of our guests may have preferred a little anesthesia but that we could not provide. 

3. We had rehearsed fairly well and only one mistake (by me) in the last movement caused a breakdown. Sorry.

Lessons learned: 

1. A performance isn't a rehearsal. You can never know what may break in  shift or a fingering so you have to be able to do it anyway imaginable.

2. Teacher says that you have to perform frequently in order to be comfortable performing. He suggests that we do this at nursing homes and other places so that I learn to "perform".

3. Teacher says that you have to abandon yourself to the music. The minute one thinks of oneself the performance will suffer.

I am glad I did it. I am grateful for good friends who found some enjoyment in it. It wasn't an unmitigated disaster. There were some very good moments. The slow movement came off tolerably well. In fact the only major disappointment was my tone production for the extended violin passage at the beginning of the last movement. 

From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on May 2, 2010 at 1:06 PM

Every performance is a way of learning! Good luck!  This is a wonderful opportunity!


From Nate Evans
Posted on May 2, 2010 at 10:49 PM

 My teacher says it's important to perform whenever you get the chance, even at the Suzuki book 1 level.  I get anxiety playing just around my Girlfriend because I hate not being successful or good at something.  So I practice in a different room, sometimes with a mute even thought I don't need to just so when I do play in front of people, I'm "really good".  It's been the way I've done everything, but realize, I can't do that with this as even just practicing in front of another person does something to get the nerves out.


  I can play the Suzuki book one songs without mistake, PERFECTLY in tune everytime up to perpetual motion (not much I know, but I've only been playing a little over a month, so cut me some slack!!!), and even have them memorized.  My teacher asked me to show him "May Song", and I was so flustered and nervous to show him how "down pat" I had that song, and I was all over the place, and couldn't even keep in rhythm, let alone good tone.  it was embarassing.  He realized that it was nerves and proceeded to tell me, I have to get over the "fear" of playing in front of people.  And when I did finally somewhat get past my nerves, he said the positive thing I did, was I didn't stop when out of tone or wrong key was I just kept going and didn't stop, which was a good thing for improvisational playing.  He said "90% of people don't even realize you made a mistake, unless you let it be apparent by stopping or they REALLY REALLY know the tune."


So if you only made one mistake, good on ya.  Awesome post!

From Terez Mertes
Posted on May 3, 2010 at 1:58 AM

 I would have loved to have heard it! I would have been whooping and cheering at the end (never between movements, mind you). This sounds just charming, a home performance. It makes me wish I'd been born in an era (and a family) for which such performances/music nights were a weekly or monthly occurrence. 

Thanks for sharing this experience - I enjoyed hearing about it, and congrats on what sounds like a wonderful performance (and audience).

From Yixi Zhang
Posted on May 3, 2010 at 5:32 AM

Sounds like everyone had a good time and that's what it counts. Only one mistake in an entire performance? Well done!

I too need more performance experience. My teacher also told me to practice performance; i.e., pretend performing when I'm practicing. In a warm day, I’d practice in our living room with windows open. I sometimes saw people walking by would stop, look at the window and listen for a while. Folks on both side of our next door all like to work in their yard and would some time whistle a tune now and then while I’m practicing. I haven’t heard any complaint so far so I feel like this ‘indoor busking’ is working so far. I'm thinking about doing some farmers' market this summer in addition to two summer camps. Nursing home is another great idea. I should look into it.

From Corwin Slack
Posted on May 3, 2010 at 2:13 PM

 There were many mistakes but only only that required that we stop and restart. 

From Ray Randall
Posted on May 4, 2010 at 3:34 AM

It's among friends and a social occasion to boot, no big deal that you had to restart.

From Yixi Zhang
Posted on May 4, 2010 at 3:33 AM

I used to feel really bad when I made mistakes during a performance, especially the mistakes took place where I had practiced to death and should have been fine but didn't. But mistakes are almost a given espeically if a particular piece I've never performed before. Lately I start to look at mistakes differently: they are opportunities for you to hone performance skills, such as learn to keep going after it happens, learn to understand where the prep should be done differently, etc. Your teacher was right that it's not rehearsal so you shouldn't stop and restart. Chances are, your audience hadn't noticed the mistake until you stopped. But as Ray said, no big deal.

Posted on May 4, 2010 at 7:36 PM

Perhaps one small shot of Tequila prior to perform could have helped to calm down the nerves, and later on, a glass of a fine red wine to celebrate the performance success could have been most appreciated by your audience.

From Richard Watson
Posted on May 4, 2010 at 9:01 PM

 Brahms showed the MSS of the slow movement to Clara Schumann, who gently chastised him for saying such things to a married woman.  She must have understood too well.  It makes me wish I played cello.

From Corwin Slack
Posted on May 5, 2010 at 1:49 PM

The cello solo is among the most beautiful ever but the violin part for the slow movement is very rewarding.

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