Printer-friendly version weekend vote: How often do you perform in public?

The Weekend Vote

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Published: April 10, 2015 at 6:33 AM [UTC]

It's recital season, and I'm finding that for some of my students, that means just one more of many performances. For others who have fewer performing opportunities, it's more of a big deal.

recital hall

Let's face it, music is a "performing art," and playing for people is part of what we are training to do, when we learn to play an instrument. But it's not always the most comfortable part of the equation.

One thing is for sure: performing improves with practice, just as scales improve with practice, accuracy improves with practice, etc. The more you say "yes" to opportunities to perform in public, the better you'll get at it. And I daresay, it usually gets a bit easier.

"Performing in public" can take many forms: playing in orchestra concerts, playing in a recital, playing a chamber music concert, playing for church, playing in a show, playing in a band, and even busking is a form of performing in public.

Professional musicians often perform in public several times a week, all year long. On the other hand, a beginning student who has not yet joined an orchestra or found another outlet for performing may only play a few times a year. Teachers, also, may not perform as often because they spend so many hours teaching.

How often do you perform in public? What are your most frequent performing opportunities? Do you find it easy or difficult to perform in public?

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From Trevor Jennings
Posted on April 10, 2015 at 1:43 PM
I'm not a professional but I've totted up my public playing for a year and so a little surprised to find it's 50+, consisting of 3-4 per month playing in bands for dancers or public entertainment at displays or for charity (mostly Playford, but some barn dances and ceilis), and 16-20 symphony/chamber orchestra concerts (3 symphony/chamber orchestras + ad hocs and occasional deputizing). Keeps me out of the pub, anyway!
From Steven Albert
Posted on April 10, 2015 at 2:27 PM
You neglected the option for NEVER! I feel very sorry for my teacher who I have to pay to listen to me. Even my cats leave the room when I practice.
Posted on April 10, 2015 at 10:35 PM
I play viola and violin. I'm 87 years old, a retired pharmacist and have owned a pawnshop for over 15 years. I've been violist in the Joshua Tree Symphony Orchestra for the past 6 years, have been taking violin and viola lessons every now and then to keep up my skills. Every week in the public areas of my pawnshop, I play piano, clarinet and viola trios. In addition I play cello/viola duets with a local artist. Occasionally we have string trios or quartets. Stanley Zarakov, Yucca Valley.

From Jim Hastings
Posted on April 10, 2015 at 10:37 PM
I checked "More than 50 times a year" since, as you said, "even busking is a form of performing in public."

My kind of busking isn't something I get paid for, but payment isn't the objective. Here it's warm enough 7-8 months each year to play in the garage, and that's where I go in the evening once hard-core practice indoors is done. Audiences vary. Some passers-by stop to listen, and there's the occasional visitor who wants to try out my instrument.

To all this, I wish I could add "about once a week" for scheduled, posted performances of small chamber works, but time constraints keep me from this right now.

From Karen Collins
Posted on April 10, 2015 at 11:20 PM
I don't particularly enjoy performing in public (yet) but I know that it's good for me to do it. Let me rephrase that - it's great for me to do it. Nothing else makes me work as hard on pieces; nothing else makes me think so much about musicality vs "just getting the notes"; nothing else forces me to deal with adversity (shaky bows, bad notes, etc). I know that playing in public (and all the prep that it requires) will make me a better musician. Unfortunately, for adult students, there really aren't a lot of opportunities available.
From Henry Butcher.
Posted on April 11, 2015 at 1:21 AM
I perform on average once a week, mainly due to my attendances at the local-weekly 'open mic' sessions. But I also play in a band and do some freelancing. Even after my short hiatus from gigs some years ago I found myself very nervous performing on the stage. Stuff goes through my head and I get the shakes. But I know this is the 'ego' and there was only one remedy for that, so I put myself in the 'deep end'. Over the past few years I have become known as the fiddler who plays along with any song. People now ask me to play with them even without a rehearsal of the songs. And some musos even trust me to perform with them at gigs without the rehearsal. It may only be a short spot for only 50 bucks, but the money is not the point. It's all about practising my craft...'for an audience'.
The motivation for that has come about because of my desire to perform my solo repertoire of light classical pieces and some gypsy pieces I have transcribed. I play them when busking, but there is a great 'little wood lined room' where they hold an open mic session.....this moment will come rush, it will be magic.
From Paul Deck
Posted on April 12, 2015 at 12:51 AM
Assuming you mean on violin, but much more on piano, ca. 2-3x per month. Performing in public on violin is hard, but I do the adult recital 2x per year and then one or two other things.

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