Performing with a pianist who hasn't practiced...
I have an eisteddfod (local competition) coming up next week, performing the 3rd movement of Mendelssohn, Tambourin Chinois and the 4th movement of the Spring Sonata.
I've got my part sorted, however the pianist I'm working with has not learnt her part, DESPITE the fact I gave the piano parts to her 6 weeks ago.
I had a rehearsal with her last week, and it was dreadful. She was SIGHTREADING my sonata and I was so upset that the whole thing was just an utter disaster. Tambourin Chinois was a mistake wonderland, but the Mendelssohn was okay (seeing as she's played it with a number of students before).
On top of that, she didn't even apologise for her mistakes, and still charged me $60 for the hour.
I'm quite conflicted whether or not to perform at this eisteddfod, as I really do love performing, and I have a good chance of winning around $500. There are a number of people who are actually looking forward to my performance (due to my reputation in the area) but I'm quite afraid to perform badly and ruin my reputation, and my teacher's reputation. Knowing this pianist, she won't even look at my part until the day before the performance, and I will have to pay her another $60 for rehearsal, and $60 on the day of the performance.
Does anyone have any advice?
I'm just a beginner, but.... Can you get someone else to replace your current pianist in this short time before your performance? She doesn't deserve to continue to get paid for such shoddy work. Plus it's stressing you out which you don't need.
Have a frank conversation with your teacher, who presumably knows the available pianists in the area.
Hi Rhiannon, unfortunately I wouldn't be able to use another accompanist as all the parts are very demanding for a pianist. I had no choice but to use this accompanist as my usual accompanist is away, and I've used her for my violin students before. However, I'm very shocked that despite giving the music to her prior, she sightread the pieces at rehearsal.
Hi Mary, I've spoken to my teacher and she said that it was really up to me whether I perform or not. I actually live 100km away from my teacher (like an hour drive away) and although she has suggested pianists who could do the job, but I would have to travel far to do a rehearsal, and I'm not sure if they would come down 100km to peform with me.
I sympathize with you. It's a bad situation.
A highly skilled pianist is worth the commute and cost. In some areas, it's common to travel a distance to work with specific musicians. If you have the budget and transportation, I'd consider the pianist whom your teacher recommends. Offer to pay the pianist an extra fee to commute to your festival.
If you don't mind my asking, how did you end up with this wretched pianist? I hope it was not your teacher's recommendation.
I agree with Frieda, a good pianist is worth the trouble if they take your competition seriously and play well. It is one less thing to worry about so you can fully concentrate on being at your best. It will also give the first pianist something to think about when she realizes you no longer require her services.
Hi everyone, thanks for your concern!
Why not bill it as the "Write-Off Spring Sonata"?
If the competition focuses on the violin, then just go with what you have. The audience will recognize your good playing and the pianist will be embarrassed.
The problem in a case like that - it's YOUR competition, not hers. She is "only" the accompanist, even if what you have to pay her for three hours of rehearsal plus one hours of performance is approximately 50% of the price you might probably win, but for her it's mainly a job. If you are choosing pieces she hasn't in her standard repertoire, then a proper preparation of those pieces will take her several times as much effort than the time she spends playing together with you. If she's well booked, be it as a teacher or a performer, most probably 60 bucks per hour is just adequate in her eyes (and also in mine), and several hours of additional practice simply does not pay her bills.
I think it's unprofessional for a pianist to show up unprepared, period, and as a paying customer of an accompanist, you have a right to object.
Lydia, how true. And I'd also say that if the expected income is not regarded as appropriate for the whole project, then one should not take part in it.
Nuuska you say this so well and I would simply add that I think you should tell the pianist what you think i.e. it sounds too rough for a live performance, and ask if they think that more rehearsal time together that you're happy to pay for would get things up to speed.
There is so much competition around where I live that pianists who cannot play those parts competently at sight will probably not get hired. But then, those are pretty standard pieces so most collaborative pianists who put their name up already know how to play them.
I also ditto the opinions of everyone who's commented, the pianist is vital for a performance to succeed or fail, especially in a sonata, where the pianist isn't JUST an accompanist. I think I'll perform at the eisteddfod, and make a fool of the pianist...
If so, then the pianist will fool herself. The only thing you've got to do is to stay on track. A situation like this can be quite distracting. But somehow it is also a chance to grow, if you can regard it like that...
Realizing you only have a few days left, I wonder if the following could help any.
Kaori- it sounds like your level of practicality has gone way up since your original post. Getting people to perform at a much higher level with a good attitude is the main goal of business management! You want to spur improvement in an effective way, but you don't want to be critical or make them feel bad so that they sabotage you or seek retribution or just get worse. It requires a delicate balance.
Tom Bop said: “Also, it's generally not sympathetic to complain about people one's got in a relationship with - personal, or business. People will be sympathetic to your face, but the first thing they think is "well, they're the one who hired them" or married them, or whatever, so it ends up being a reflection on the complainer.”
Rhiannon, no reason to personalize this- I don't know you at all, was not thinking about you in the least, and I did not say "everyone" would think that. Just a generic "people," meaning "some people," and only trying to pass along a little life lesson, fwiw.
The pianist is shooting herself in the foot. Let her. It isn't your responsibility to try to cajole someone who is supposedly a professional into behaving like a professional.
Tom if you read over your post, you were projecting what YOU were thinking on everyone else.
There are other ways to make money than being an accompanist. Why, just last month I made $14823 selling insurance from my home... (insert link to scam website)
I agree with Mary Ellen. Your pianist is going to be playing in front of a jury of professionals. That's her own professional reputation on the line. You can bet that if "Beethoven sounds like Bartok", as you put it, in the Spring Sonata (which is a core sonata in the *piano* repertoire as well), none of those people are going to ever recommend that anyone work with her.
“No matter how terribly or beautifully the other person is playing, you got to do what you got to do. You still have to be you.”
Kiki, your daughter's piano teacher probably reads this forum!
I hope Kaori will let us know how it goes.
Update: Had a rehearsal with the pianist yesterday, and I think she realised that she sounded terrible, so she practiced.
Break an E string! (I mean a leg.)
Dear everyone who has posted on this forum,
Congrats on your achievement - especially, the Mendelssohn!
I'm glad you played.
If I were in your shoes (and I have been), I wouldn't ask for a reimbursement, but I would write a very polite email saying that I basically wasted my time and money for her to realize that she wasn't doing her job and ultimately behaving this way affects one's reputation and brings one way down to the pile of recommendation lists. In music (probably in all fields), reputation is the most important thing you have to protect, and she didn't seem to care enough about her reputation. There's no way to thrive in the music business if you 're not on top of things.
Definitely. I will not ask for a reimbursement, nor will I email her saying that her rehearsal performances of the Spring sounded terrible. I will do what Mary Ellen said, and just never hire her again.
Kaori, Congrats on the medal! Great job! You're smart to take Mary Ellen's advice- you've learned the important lesson to vet people carefully in the future... spend the energy developing your skills even further.