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Mendy Smith

A Periodic Test of Stage Fright

April 9, 2011 at 3:55 AM

It has been several months since I've performed solo.  This Sunday I'll be playing one of the shorter pieces for viola and piano by Rebecca Clark at the early service at church - "I'll Bid My Heart Be Still".  The original lyrics to the song are:

"I'll bid my heart be still; and check each struggling sigh; and there's none e'er shall know my soul's cherished woe: when the first tears of sorrow are dry." 


"They bid me cease to weep; for glory gilds his name; Ah, 'tis therefore I mourn, he can never return: to enjoy the bright noon of his fame." 


"My cheek has lost its hue; my eye grows faint and dim; but 'tis sweeter to die in grief's gloomy shade: than bloom for another than him."

It is a simple piece, but one that I've never played before until this past week.  I'll be performing it with in the early hours of the morning after one 30 minute rehearsal earlier in the week. The pianist and I will be running through the piece a second time a few minutes before the service starts. In those sparse minutes, I have time to tune, warm up, compose myself, and work out any questions on dynamics and tempo changes. 

Though the piece is simple, it requires impeccable bow control and dynamic changes. It is very transparent in the harmonies with the piano with little room for error.  "Simple" in this regard is quite the challenge. 

If I can keep from tensing up, it will go quite well.

From Elinor Estepa
Posted on April 9, 2011 at 6:35 PM


Don't think too much! Play it to God, that makes everything go well.


From edmund jones
Posted on April 12, 2011 at 8:16 AM

Hi Mendy,

               You use the word simple to describe your piece - well simple is not the same as easy, To illustrate my point, many years ago I went to a performance of the Mendellsohn concerto, (around 1963, )  by Yehudi Menuhin. He played with expert control until the long open G in the beginning of the second subject, then his bow started to shake uncontrollably for several bars.

Those bars are arguably the most simple in the entire concerto repertoire, and yet he found them the most difficult on that occaision.

Try singing the words to yourself when playing, it often works for me.



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