Where do you look? what do you thnik? - Audience, close eyes, down at keys?

Discuss the joys and pratfalls of performance

Postby Tranquillo » Thu Sep 20, 2007 9:20 pm

When you go to a concert or watch one do you notice how many pianists that play romantic always look around or up at the ceiling sometimes smiling to certain ones in the audience.

Where do you look? I look down at the keys.

Also what is on your mind when you do perform .... (dont stuff up, please dont, no you'll do fine, c'mon graceful not heavy, ohh I like this bit, hey I wonder where shes going) what do you think? A few times I kept thinking dont stuff up ... then I was like you didnt stuff up yet! Great! then I did make a mistake hehehe.
Music is organised sound
User avatar
Tranquillo
 
Posts: 465
Joined: Wed Sep 05, 2007 11:43 pm

Postby 112-1182392787 » Fri Sep 21, 2007 7:20 am

On where to look when playing the piano, I found Dr. Huang's article on posture etc. featured on this site extraordinarily helpful. He also addresses the head, which is the thing you look with, sort of. In my one and only piano performance my eyes were on the music enough to find my way if I got lost. When playing violin or singing I will focus on a corner of the room as my reference point, but not rigidly. I once asked a choir conductor how to focus in performing. He got a distant look in his eye, pointed his arm to a distant point in the horizon (we were outside), and said "You look .... there!"

What to think when performing. Do NOT think anything on your list. Do not think of what you do not want to do. Do not have any conversations with yourself. Do not observe yourself as though you were your own audience, or try to see yourself through their eyes. Do not talk to yourself (It's known as "self-talk"). Do not think of yourself as being in the role of performing. Be within the act of performing, which means, playing your music. Be totally involved with that, second after second after second; note after note after note - let your mind be there, and only there. This is what performing is: playing the music. Some people happen to be listening. They will receive your playing as a whole experience. You know what that is like, because you have been a listener your whole life. But in performing, you are talking with the composer and your piano, and the audience gets to observe that private conversation which for you, the musician, unfolds moment for moment, while for them, the audience, it is a flowing entirety. (Am I getting too obtuse?)

Oh, and a lot of people seem to perceive performances like a judgement of how well something is done: like an Olympic event. We have that among audiences, and among performers. But performance can be done with a different mentality. You are communicating a story to the audience. You have gone into a field and picked beautiful flowers, and now you are saying "Look what I found!" To present these flowers, you are back in the field, picking them. You are back with the composer's music, his intent, your interpretation (flower arrangement). Your attention is on the music and your expression on it, and by almost ignoring the audience's presence, your music comes closest to reaching the audience. Your attention is also on the technical details, moment for moment, and in anticipation - how you will move from this note to the next, how the crescendo builds, what the best way of physical executing this dynamic which you have practised hundreds of times - because the music was built technically, deliberately, and performance has this element too. A painter uses colour, and knows that blue and yellow make green. In this way you use all your skills and knowledge, but you are not under judgement for your abilities. You are second. Your music is first. This takes pressure off you. It helps you concentrate on the music and away from yourself. It enhances your performance, and reaches your audience.

This is part of what I have learned so far.
User avatar
112-1182392787
 

Postby 112-1182392787 » Fri Sep 21, 2007 7:36 am

More on same: I'm still working out my own relationship with the audience and how the audience gets affected by the music (which I think would not be the same relationship in a competition, which I suspect is a different activity and not performing in the same sense).

A few years ago I tried to sense audience reaction, and "reach" the audience. Then I realized that when I play or sing for myself, people tell me how much they are affected, but I'm not trying to affect them. What if something similar happens in a performance? What if you don't have to try to reach the audience: just reach the musical story? That in itself helped me to remain centered in performing.

Then in the piano performance that brought me to this site, I performed two pieces in two recitals. The first was a series of Gavotte variations, with a lot of fast passages. A restless child was shuffling his feet, I lost concentration and had to flub through a few bars before regaining my focus. I realized I was not distracted: I was "conversant". Supposing that you are having a conversation with someone. You constantly react to their reactions. If you want to tell happy news, but you see the person is depressed, you'll change what you're talking about, or the tone of your conversation. But you can't do that in a performance. When the boy shuffled his feet, the message was "This is boring. Hurry up." and the conversant thing thing to do was to get it over with, to satisfy the message, and respond to what the shuffling feet were saying. But you must be master on the stage and hold the conversation on your own terms. This kind of responsiveness is not good. Having recognized where my flubbing came from, I can choose a different attitude.

The second piece was slow, could carry strong emotion, but that emotion had to be built through technical means. My mind never left the details of playing moment for moment. Yet I knew that after the second note the audience had fallen silent, I was aware of absolute silence through the whole piece, and that it meant the audience was being reached. I remained in my personal musical space; the audience's silence did not affect me either way - I don't know whether something is "done" with audience reaction. Thinking about it now, if I had allowed myself to become more aware of it, distracting happy self-talk and emotional excitement might have destroyed the quality of playing. "Ignoring" the audience and staying with the music seemed to work.
User avatar
112-1182392787
 

Postby Tranquillo » Fri Sep 21, 2007 8:44 pm

Oh thats a nice thought when performing to reach the audience. I think with singing that is one of my weak spots. The last recital I perfomed at was actually at school. Me and a friend did phantom of the opera , we had special lights on the night a smoke machine .... black curtains as backdrop and the set up of the speakers allowed me to hear myself crystal clear.
When we had the dress rehersals during the day and a few days before I always looked at my partner but the music teacher was there telling me that the audience has got to be reached too so dont look at the phantom too much look more at the audience.
The thing is I got carried away with the acting at times and forgot audience. I eventually learnt to look at the audience during the several rehersals ... the audience during those reherasals were quite lively so I singled out ones in the audience. I liked doing that so then I could see if anyone cared ... most really did look at me and the phantom guy it was like we mezmerised them! HOWEVER during the night all the lights were tuned off except for the stage light and I couldnt see anybody in the audience so I pretend ... arggh I liked it when the lights were on!
Music is organised sound
User avatar
Tranquillo
 
Posts: 465
Joined: Wed Sep 05, 2007 11:43 pm

Postby pianogal » Sun Sep 23, 2007 1:55 pm

um...when I get nervous (when I'm performing songs that are fast and jumpy), I definitely look down, making sure I don't hit wrong keys.

When I'm play nocturnes (slow songs), I usually look up, or forward. The music's relaxing, I'm relaxed. Also, when I look up, I can acctually feel the music, as if I'm in the audience, enjoying someone's performance.

I don't know, it just gives me this unusual feeling, and enables me to feel what needs to be fixed or how it'll sound better.

Or I close my eyes and "dream" :laugh:
Don't ever give up piano, because you will like it someday
User avatar
pianogal
 
Posts: 114
Joined: Thu Aug 02, 2007 5:02 pm
Location: Reno, Nevada

Postby Tranquillo » Tue Apr 01, 2008 5:45 am

pianissimo wrote:On where to look when playing the piano, I found Dr. Huang's article on posture etc. featured on this site extraordinarily helpful. He also addresses the head, which is the thing you look with, sort of. In my one and only piano performance my eyes were on the music enough to find my way if I got lost. When playing violin or singing I will focus on a corner of the room as my reference point, but not rigidly. I once asked a choir conductor how to focus in performing. He got a distant look in his eye, pointed his arm to a distant point in the horizon (we were outside), and said "You look .... there!"

What to think when performing. Do NOT think anything on your list. Do not think of what you do not want to do. Do not have any conversations with yourself. Do not observe yourself as though you were your own audience, or try to see yourself through their eyes. Do not talk to yourself (It's known as "self-talk"). Do not think of yourself as being in the role of performing. Be within the act of performing, which means, playing your music. Be totally involved with that, second after second after second; note after note after note - let your mind be there, and only there. This is what performing is: playing the music. Some people happen to be listening. They will receive your playing as a whole experience. You know what that is like, because you have been a listener your whole life. But in performing, you are talking with the composer and your piano, and the audience gets to observe that private conversation which for you, the musician, unfolds moment for moment, while for them, the audience, it is a flowing entirety. (Am I getting too obtuse?)

Oh, and a lot of people seem to perceive performances like a judgement of how well something is done: like an Olympic event. We have that among audiences, and among performers. But performance can be done with a different mentality. You are communicating a story to the audience. You have gone into a field and picked beautiful flowers, and now you are saying "Look what I found!" To present these flowers, you are back in the field, picking them. You are back with the composer's music, his intent, your interpretation (flower arrangement). Your attention is on the music and your expression on it, and by almost ignoring the audience's presence, your music comes closest to reaching the audience. Your attention is also on the technical details, moment for moment, and in anticipation - how you will move from this note to the next, how the crescendo builds, what the best way of physical executing this dynamic which you have practised hundreds of times - because the music was built technically, deliberately, and performance has this element too. A painter uses colour, and knows that blue and yellow make green. In this way you use all your skills and knowledge, but you are not under judgement for your abilities. You are second. Your music is first. This takes pressure off you. It helps you concentrate on the music and away from yourself. It enhances your performance, and reaches your audience.

This is part of what I have learned so far.

You know now when I read over what you have wrote it makes plenty of sense to me. After performing on various occasions and gaining experience I found performing to be quite an amazing experience and occasion. Having an audience to witness the 'flowers' you picked and having them focus on you is like the world has stopped just to watch you. You are in the control, you can do something to them it is in your hands and up to you. I think this is what makes me nervous but excited and its a great feeling.

I think self-talk comes natually in the beginning stages and even in later stages particually when one repeats the same piece of music at differing venues. Performance requires 100% focus and it takes experience, persistance and time to develop that. Its hard work but afterwards the feeling left is worthwhile!

Thanks Pianissimo you could'nt have explained it any better!
Music is organised sound
User avatar
Tranquillo
 
Posts: 465
Joined: Wed Sep 05, 2007 11:43 pm


Return to Performing

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron