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Laurie Niles

When familiarity breeds burnout

May 11, 2006 at 6:42 AM

My studio recital is this Saturday, and though I made all my students pick their pieces two months ago, memorize them one month ago, and practice performing them for all their relatives, neighbors and pets for the last two weeks, one question remains.

What should I play? I've been in the habit of playing at the end of the studio recital, and I've enjoyed doing it.

Because of my little audition a few weeks back, I've spent several months working up orchestral excerpts and concerto first movements.

Hey, I could play the Scherzo from Schumann Symphony No. 2! Or, the first 27 bars of Mozart's 39! No, no, too common. How about the Adagio from Mahler Symphony 10? That's a show-stopper!

Okay, hah hah. But I didn't even want to play either of the concertos I worked up. I'm just sick of it all!

I turned to the Tchaikovsky "Meditation." Back in December, I'd heard Joshua Bell playing it on the radio; it's on his latest Tchaik album. (Do only old people say "album" any more?) I'd forgotten the existence of this piece, though I knew it well because of a recording I had of my teacher Gerardo Ribeiro playing it.

I really had to search to find the music, which I got for Christmas and promptly set aside, so I could practice for orchestra concerts, auditions, etc. But I really wanted to play it, especially on the Italian. Whoo, up there on the G! Still, shouldn't I maybe play my Mozart concerto that I had all polished up for the audition?

"How much progress are you going to make on the piece you really want to play if you play the piece you're sick of?" asked Robert, in typically logical, non-musician fashion.

It's been a long month, I guess I could use some Meditation.

From bill _
Posted on May 11, 2006 at 4:11 PM
If I were you, I wouldn't play at the student recital. I would want the parents, children and family to go home with the memory of their own playing being fresh in their minds.

Just be sure to put your best playing student last :-)

From Laurie Niles
Posted on May 11, 2006 at 5:13 PM
It's nice for them to hear something other than Suzuki music. They know their teacher, and they know I like to play!
From Laura Yeh
Posted on May 11, 2006 at 6:54 PM
I have to disagree with Bill. I always play on my students' recitals. It's important for the them to hear professionals perform so they can have a model for good playing. It's especially great for them to hear non-student pieces. Many of them ask me when they'll get to play whatever piece I played. It's a vital part of the recital.
Good for you Laurie for choosing to keep it fresh and fun! Good luck to you and all your students at the recital.
From Clare Chu
Posted on May 11, 2006 at 7:19 PM
Hi Laurie, wow, I really admire all the gumption you have with the audition and playing at the student recital.

Speaking as a parent and a student I can say that the teacher playing at the end is always special. We look forward to it, and it inspires the students as well as reassures the parents that the teacher enjoys playing and performing. Besides, it has the added benefit of ensuring that everyone stays until the end. I'd say go for the Meditation since that is what you want to play on your Italian, even if it's not clinically perfected like the Mozart is, I think parents and students will appreciate the heart you put into it. Besides I'm sure you'll have it perfected by the time of the recital anyway. Cheers!

From D Wright
Posted on May 11, 2006 at 9:00 PM
You're right not to play your audition pieces. When my friend had her own auditions with the Toronto Symphony she calmed down by playing the Mendelssohn d minor trio and reminding herself how much fun it can be to play music for the joy of it.
From Laurie Niles
Posted on May 12, 2006 at 4:14 AM
Thanks everyone! The nice thing about doing this piece is that I really love it, and since I don't have to do three hours of other stuff, I have been able to simply enjoy playing it a lot! I do want us all to have fun, then party at Mrs. Niles' house. :) I think I'll pop "They Shall Have Music" into the VCR while everyone snacks and socializes!
From Mister Brucie
Posted on May 12, 2006 at 5:58 AM
Maybe only "old" people say "album" any more, but it's still an accurate word since it means "collection" (as in "photo album").

Same goes for "record." A CD (or MP3 or whatever) is not vinyl, but it is a RECORD in the sense that it's a recorded thing.

If you refer to some piece you heard on a wax cylinder, however, I'm afraid you might have trouble passing for ... um... shall we say, under 39.

P.S. playing on students' recitals is a wonderful idea and fun for everyone, in my experience at least. Just make sure it's a recital of your own students, not someone else's. :-o

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