Performance stories - Share stories about performances

Discuss the joys and pratfalls of performance

Postby 97-1128742375 » Sat Oct 08, 2005 7:24 pm

Hey Everyone!
I thought it might be really cool to have a forum for sharing performances- the good, bad, disastrous, fun, excellent, and funny! :D
Have fun with piano and the performance - dedication, hard work, perserverance, and the performance itself.
Any stories to share?
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Postby Dr. Bill Leland » Sun Oct 09, 2005 11:32 am

Anybody ever have this happen? I was accompanying a voice recital once, and right in the middle of Schubert's great song cycle "Winterreise" the whole pedal framework fell off. Our resident baritone, who was singing, nonchalantly made a joke out of it, then we pushed the piano offstage and dragged out another one to finish.

Another time my wife and I were just beginning the first number on a duo-piano recital when her bench collapsed. I didn't notice immediately (I really concentrate on stage!) so she had to yell at me to stop. Her page turner got another bench and we started over.

Dr. Bill.
Technique is 90 per cent from the neck up.
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Postby 97-1128742375 » Sun Oct 09, 2005 12:32 pm

sounds like the pianos weren't "top quality!" :D
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Postby Dr. Bill Leland » Mon Oct 10, 2005 11:02 am

Actually it was a pretty good 9-foot Steinway. But the pedal lyre assembly goes on by fitting into a flange under the keybed, which is then locked in place by a wooden lever. Apparently the last guys who moved it didn't get the metal flanges lined up properly.

I forget where the bench came from--but that was no fault of the piano. Plus, on a busy university recital stage pianos get shoved around an awful lot. We should have a separate room for them, but the New Mexico Legislature didn't give us enough money for one when the Music Center was built.

The real fun in playing concerts is traveling to some place where you have no idea what the piano's going to be like (do I ever envy singers and flutists!). I could mention some other hairy incidents as well.

Technique is 90 per cent from the neck up.
Dr. Bill Leland
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Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2004 5:58 pm
Location: Las Cruces, NM

Postby 97-1128742375 » Mon Oct 10, 2005 12:48 pm

that's very true : what you said about performing when you don't know what the piano is going to be like
usually when I am performing somewhere (like in a chapel or at school) I like to come beforehand to warm-up and see how the piano sounds.
it helps to not be surprised at the first note right when you are performing :)
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Postby Stretto » Tue Oct 11, 2005 8:51 am

Here's a few (kind of one as a student/elementary age, one for college performing, one as a teacher):

When I had been taking lessons for probably less than three years (starting at 12), I was one of those students who didn't practice all week a lot of times and then crammed in the practice on the day before my lesson. I recall a lot of crammed practicing on Sunday afternoons, so I must have had Mon. lessons. (Come to think of it, that was my style in all aspects of life, school, getting ready to go somewhere, projects - - procrastinate and then hurry at the last minute, it took having kids to change me of that one - - now I do things way in advance and can't stand the 'last minute' stress anymore.) Well, I've told this story on a forum here before: Probably for my second or third recital that I had ever performed (I would have been maybe 14), I put off memorizing my music until probably a few days (or less) before the recital. I failed miserably at the recital. When nervousness set in, I couldn't remember most of it. I fumbled around on the keys trying to figure out any part of the music and just kind of ended after a bit of fumbling around and walked away from the piano wanting to crawl under a rock (probably was 7 shades of red too)! I learned my lesson, fortunately early on, and that was the first and last time I ever put off getting ready for a recital. I think I practiced a little more faithfully after that as well. This spring a lot of my students weren't practicing hardly at all and I announced a recital for 2 months away. I figured some of them might have to learn the hard way (sink or swim as I did). I wasn't even concerned how well they all played at the recital. I did it more so to jump start the practicing and give those who continued not to practice a little taste of what I experienced above. They all did wonderfully at the recital and practiced like crazy. Don't ask me how they all always pull it off at recitals. They all play better than they do at lessons at every recital I've ever had. I could never do it that way.

Then in college, there was the piece I really disliked. The one I mentioned in the "Bach 2-Pt Invention" thread above. The Clementi Sonata: When I played it for my juries, among other 'mess ups', the "recording of it in my brain" did one of those numbers where I automatically went back to the beginning section of the sonata, rather than going to the last section. :p Has anyone else ever done this in performance, went to the wrong section of the piece?? I didn't really notice it until half-way into the first section again what I'd done and trying to figure out as I was playing how to smoothly switch that section into the ending section - - what a disaster!! But again I learned my lesson, and I really pay a lot closer attention when I get to similar places in other pieces as to which section or ending I am to go to next.

Finally, as a teacher, I usually try to play a couple pieces at the end of a student recital. I had a teacher who did this once and thought it was a nice thing to do. After all, I feel if the students have to go to all that work, the teacher shouldn't get off the hook. I really feel performing for students and parents of students is the most nerve-wracking type of performance since if you flubb up consistently at recitals as a teacher, parents might start questioning your teaching ability, who knows. It also is more nerve-wracking to me because I'm already a little stressed as the one organizing it, hoping everyone gets there, hoping the students all do ok and don't get too nervous, and then performing on top of all that other stress. I had performed for a couple of my student recitals prior and did ok, nervous to where my hands where shaking, but managed to play with no glitches. Also, my first few recitals I had in my living room since I had a handful of students (I always liked the recitals in the teacher's home best as a kid). So I was doubly nervous about everyone being in my home (inspecting the teacher's home while your at it :laugh: ). Well, when I went to play my pieces this one particular time, my hands got to shaking so bad, it was all I could do to keep them going where they were suppose to and suddenly one whole hand and arm went completely numb!!!! :shock: Don't ask me how one is suppose to play a piece of music when you can't feel your whole arm and hand, somehow I made it through and amazingly well. That was the worst and most suprising thing that ever happened to me. After that experience, I have worked to be a lot more relaxed about performing and just try to have fun, make recitals relaxed for everyone, and just have fun with the piece and not worry about it. This last June, I played for my student recital and was the most relaxed and had the most fun in performing I ever have anytime prior. I look forward to more of those kinds of relaxed, fun perfomances in the future. :)

P.S. When it comes to never knowing what kind of piano you might get, I went to a guest concert once at a church (not solely piano, however) where the performer was very upset about the equipment/sound system available and the performance was late as he was trying to make adjustments himself the best he could with the stuff. Later I heard that the guest performer usually only performed at places that were up to a certain standard as far as equipment. - Maybe harder to do for pianos. Also it's not like you can lug your own piano around with you everywhere you go to ensure your performance is on a decent one, :laugh: Dr. Leland, I respect and commend you for being willing to perform on those not so 'up-to-snuff' instruments you have mentioned on this board.

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Postby 97-1128742375 » Tue Oct 11, 2005 2:08 pm

It seems like you have had your share of mistakes and learned from them all.
I like what you said about having fun performing. I love to perform! :D
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Postby 108-1121887355 » Wed Oct 12, 2005 9:49 am

My "recitals" are called Musicales - an enjoyable evening (or afternoon) of music. The students choose the pieces they want to play with some suggestions from me, but no insistance. They play duets with other students and with me and often songs they have made up as well as at least two pieces - classical, folk, jazz, contemporary. If I make a mistake, I honor it and remind all that no one is perfect.
My favorite example of this was two years ago, when the Mother of a student was playing a duet with her. All started well, then the Mother got stuck. They stopped and went back. It happened again, and again. The Mother looked up and said, "It must be your piano, I played it perfectly at home". We all laughed, the Mother, too. The student stayed calm!
When I wrote the parents for the end of the year, I told her that was the best part of the Musicale...FUN!
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Postby 97-1128742375 » Wed Oct 12, 2005 4:10 pm

that sounds like so much fun! :)
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Postby Tranquillo » Thu Jun 19, 2008 12:28 am

Ok, here's one ... I was performing in a school graduation. The kids where little scumbags they talked through my whole performance ... I did "think of me" from phantom of the opera ... Anyways the microphone was awful, it had too much static. At the end - where there was a candenza I decided to take the mic away and do it accapella ... amazingly the hall didn't have terrible acoustics so I was heard in front of a group of 500 I hit the Bb two octaves above middle C held it there for a few counts and hearing the "wow" from many made me feel great ...

Endings are very important! :D
Music is organised sound
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