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#1034584 - 10/04/04 06:46 AM Recital Report
Cindysphinx Offline

Registered: 02/14/03
Posts: 6416
Loc: Washington D.C. Metro
Yesterday, I finally had my recital performance with the Adult Music Students' Forum. Some of you may recall that the Forum sponsors recitals for adult music students in the Washington, D.C. area. Adult Music Students\' Forum Web Site I had become interested in performing with them to get some extra experience conquering my considerable performance anxiety.

The Forum sponsors recitals in members' homes at four skill levels: Prelude (beginners, no audience allowed), Intermezzo (intermediate, no audience, 5-minute limit), Cadenza (intermediate, audience, no time limit) and Encore (advanced, audience, program). I was planning to play Chopin's Polonaise in A flat major in the Intermezzo recital, which I *booted* at my piano teacher's recital in June.

I woke up early and decided to run through my piece a few times. I was alarmed to find that, for some reason, I couldn't play the darned thing! I was having memory problems and making all sorts of new mistakes. So I went back to basics, pulled out the music, practiced hands alone, played ridiculously slowly with metronome, started in different places, etc. to fix these problems. After about *two hours* of this, I had the piece back under control, I hoped.

I arrived a few minutes early at the recital to find a string quartet already tuning and warming up in the living room. It was interesting to listen to them, because they kept getting to a certain part of the music and falling apart, with the cello not coming in at the right time, which was messing everyone up.

I sat down on the couch to watch next to a woman named Susan, who was my age and in her fifth year of lessons. We got to talking, and she revealed that she has terrible performance anxiety also. This was her third recital with the Forum, although her previous outings were with the Prelude group.

They passed around a sign-up sheet, and you could pick your own slot. I wound up sixth out of 12. Susan got the second slot after the quartet; I guess she knew to keep an eye out for the sign-up sheet! She said she had to go near the front or she'd be a nervous wreck by the time her turn came around.

The leader of the quartet addressed the group and told us the name of the piece and composer. He then told an amusing little story about the piece, and the quartet then performed quite nicely, somehow erasing all of their previous problems.

Then Susan went, after telling us a bit about her pieces and why she selected them (a Shubert waltz and something else). She then began playing from memory. Unfortunately, her memory failed her after a few measures, so she had to go to her purse and retrieve her music and reading glasses. Still, she played quite nicely on the whole once she had the music, and she later said she was happy with it because she sometimes can't finish at all.

Then a man sang two songs (he had been taking voice lessons for two years and had played violin in the quartet), accompanied on piano by his voice teacher. Then the quartet violo player performed with her choir director accompanying her on piano.

Then it was my turn.

I hadn't expected to have to actually *say* something, so I didn't have much of an anecdote about my piece. But I had brought my music, so while others were playing, I had glanced at the music. I told the group the name of the piece and that Chopin had written it when he was only 11, which was a testament to his considerable genius, and that I would try to do it justice.

The piano was a satin pecan (I think) Weber grand with a nice action but a rather percussive sound. It was on hardwood floors, so the room was quite live. But hallalujah, the piano faced *away* from the audience! So I turned my back on all those pairs of eyes and started playing. I had intermittent episodes of nerves, but I felt OK. I'm not altogether sure how I sounded -- there was one truly awful pedal blur -- but I was quite happy with the piece. I didn't make any of the fumbles that had troubled me so in the morning or back in June.

And I experienced something I had *never* experienced before. As I took the repeat back to the main melody in preparation to end the piece, I remember thinking, "Hey, that went pretty well! Maybe I'll loosen up a bit and really nail the ending." So I actually tried to make it sound more musical rather than just playing it safe, and it did!

:fist pump:

So. I got the monkey off my back, finally. I'm glad I persisted in confronting this little problem with performance anxiety. It does get better if you keep performing.

The next Intermezzo recital is in December. I'll be there!

Cindy -- whose teacher couldn't wait to hear how it went and made her promise to phone with a report, even though we have a lesson today anyway
Vote For Cindy!!


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#1034585 - 10/04/04 07:00 AM Re: Recital Report
markjpcs Offline

Registered: 08/31/04
Posts: 3171
Loc: Wisconsin
Congratulations Cindy!

Performance anxiety (to a degree) is something that keeps us on our toes when performing for an audience. I find, just as you did that as the performance moves along the anxiety starts to wane. I always thought that playing for family and friends helped and I suppose it does to a degree. I really had the jitters at my first festival when, in a room alone with two judges, the anxiety was at an all time high!

Yes, the frequent repetition of doing things like this really helps one get over the willies and every time one does something like this, it seems to get a little easier.

Congratulations again!


#1034586 - 10/04/04 07:09 AM Re: Recital Report
pianojuggler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/16/04
Posts: 1515
Woo hoo!

Yeah! Yeah!

Go Cindy!

Well, done.

I'm proud of you.

#1034587 - 10/04/04 07:50 AM Re: Recital Report
apple* Offline

Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
Polonaise in A \:D
accompanist/organist.. a non-MTNA teacher to a few

love and peace, Õun (apple in Estonian)

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#1034588 - 10/04/04 08:17 AM Re: Recital Report
kathyk Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/19/03
Posts: 6971
Loc: Maine
Brava, Cindy! You are my inspiration.

#1034589 - 10/04/04 08:22 AM Re: Recital Report
Bob Muir Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/01/03
Posts: 2653
Loc: Lakewood, WA, USA
Congrats Cindy! I can only hope to live long enough to play that well.

#1034590 - 10/04/04 08:33 AM Re: Recital Report
Phlebas Offline

Registered: 01/02/03
Posts: 4654
Loc: New York City

Wish I could have heard it.

#1034591 - 10/04/04 09:04 AM Re: Recital Report
Cindysphinx Offline

Registered: 02/14/03
Posts: 6416
Loc: Washington D.C. Metro
Hey, whoa. Apple, I think there might be more than one Chopin Polonaise. Mine was in A Flat Major. It really doesn't warrant eye-popping gremlins or anything! ;\)

But thanks, folks. I hope you'll all report on your recitals, too!
Vote For Cindy!!


#1034592 - 10/04/04 10:40 AM Re: Recital Report
pianojuggler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/16/04
Posts: 1515
I did post a report on my last recital, but I can't seem to find it right now. Methinks the search function is haywire.

#1034593 - 10/04/04 10:53 AM Re: Recital Report
WynnBear Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/13/03
Posts: 698
Loc: Dallas, TX
Congratulations, Cindy! It has been years since I had to do this, but I remember the shaking and cold hands, tunnel vision, and memory sputters very vividly. You're an inspiration!

#1034594 - 10/04/04 11:52 AM Re: Recital Report
plays88skeys Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/08/04
Posts: 3091
Loc: Richmond, VA
Cindy, you played the A Flat Major Polonaise? Opus 53??? In a recital? Holy cow! Kudos to you!
There are no shortcuts to any place worth going. - Beverly Sills

#1034595 - 10/04/04 12:30 PM Re: Recital Report
Cindysphinx Offline

Registered: 02/14/03
Posts: 6416
Loc: Washington D.C. Metro
Ah, OK. I see the problem. We had this confusion once before . . .

PW thread

There appear to be three Chopin Polonaises in A Flat Major. The one I did takes about 5 minutes to play, and Chopin wrote it when he was a boy.

I don't think it is the one you guys are thinking of. \:\(
Vote For Cindy!!


#1034596 - 10/04/04 01:49 PM Re: Recital Report
bachophile Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/04
Posts: 742
wow. i get nervous sometimes just playing for my teacher and he is as patient and understanding as they come.
im resigned to the idea ill probably only play for my own ears, and family who puts up with my practicing. (oh and my dog, i will play with him around because he never seems to mind...)
"I don't know much about classical music. For years I thought the Goldberg Variations were something Mr. and Mrs. Goldberg did on their wedding night." Woody Allen

#1034597 - 10/04/04 08:00 PM Re: Recital Report
teachum Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/19/04
Posts: 2918
Loc: idaho
What a great experience, CIndy. I have been feeling like maybe I'm somewhat better about the performance anxiety thing because I have been playing for people. But of course, who knows until one is actually in front of strangers who might "judge" you!! But it sounds like you had a really positive experience. Thanks for sharing. Are you going to do it again?
You will be 10 years older, ten years from now, no matter what you do - so go for it!

Estonia #6141 in Satin Mahogany

#1034598 - 10/05/04 09:10 PM Re: Recital Report
cathys Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/10/03
Posts: 917
Loc: Virginia
Congrats Cindy!!!!!! I definitely have first hand experience with the performance anxiety thing and it is a big step to have that first performance where things go well. It's really hard to imagine yourself doing well when all your previous experience is overwhelming nervousness; fantastic milestone!!


#1034599 - 10/06/04 02:41 AM Re: Recital Report
BeeLady Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/21/02
Posts: 2340
Loc: Massachusetts
Way to go!

The mix of music sounds interesting. Do you think having folks of different stripes helped? Might make me less nervous if other performers weren't pianists...

What will you play next?

Life is like a roll of toilet paper...the closer you get to the end, the faster it goes!

#1034600 - 10/06/04 07:42 AM Re: Recital Report
jdsher Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/20/04
Posts: 643
Loc: Plano, Texas
Yeah Cindy!!!
So glad to hear how well you did. What a cool idea to have performances for different levels of experience. I wish we had something like that in my neck of the woods.
"In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." Albert Einstein

#1034601 - 10/07/04 08:57 AM Re: Recital Report
Cindysphinx Offline

Registered: 02/14/03
Posts: 6416
Loc: Washington D.C. Metro
Thanks, ya'll!

Beelady, I might not be playing anything in December if I don't get busy practicing!

Jdsher, I wonder if you couldn't start something like this where you are?
Vote For Cindy!!


#1034602 - 10/07/04 12:20 PM Re: Recital Report
pianojuggler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/16/04
Posts: 1515
I suggested starting one in the Seattle Area. We got four people interested, but I am supposed to arrange the first gathering, and I haven't done that yet.

I still can't find my report from my last recital. I think maybe I got half-way through typing it and my computer died. I'll try to remember what happened and post here shortly.

#1034603 - 10/07/04 01:29 PM Re: Recital Report
pianojuggler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/16/04
Posts: 1515
When I started lessons a couple years ago, my teacher asked me what my goals were. I told her I'd always loved Scarlatti, and I wanted to play Scarlatti. She didn't say, "no", she just said that it would take some time. After all, I was barely on my second major scale.

Last year, I started my first Scarlatti piece (the Aria K32/L423). It was tough. But I have a recording of Emil Gilels playing it, and it's a beautiful little piece. The first time I heard it, it was mysterious, simple in the repeated patterns, but complex in the progression of tones, and the interplay of the harmony. It's short, subtle, but very thought-provoking.

I listened to Emil four or five times a day as I was trying to get the rhythms down (later, my teacher said that he plays it extremely rubato). The right hand wasn't too bad as far as the notes go. The left hand was murder. Especially to play it with the subtlety that Emil does.

I worked on it on and off for about six months. As the spring recital rolled around, I told my teacher I wanted to play it. She said, "yes". I didn't touch any other piece of music for about a month. I worked on nothing by the Scarlatti.

Then came the recital. This was my third spring recital. The first one was pure performance anxiety. I played a Bach Bouree and something else I don't even remember. The keys were moving around so much on the keyboard, I could hardly tell which were the black ones and which were white. I don't think my hands stopped shaking for ten minutes.

The second spring recital was better. I played "If You Go Away" by Jacques Brel. I flubbed a few notes here and there, but I recovered. It generally went well. That's when I said "repeats are a chance for redemption." On the second time through, you can play it right. Maybe.

So this year, I was ready to try Scarlatti. I was about half-way down the program. My teacher also teaches harp, and most of her harp students are adults, so I wasn't the only one there who was old enough to drive. She also combines her recitals with her mother's. This year, they agreed to shuffle the program somewhat randomly so that it didn't just progress from the four-year-olds on up through the advanced students. So my place on the program wasn't entirely determined by my level of accomplishment.

I was far enough down that I did have plenty of time to sit and get nervous. A couple of months earlier I had read "The Art of Practicing" by Madeline Bruser. She offers a lot of practical suggestions for mentally preparing to practice or perform. It's funny that Cindy mentioned introducing the piece to the audience. That's exactly what I did in my head. As I sat there waiting for my turn, I imagined what I would say to my fellow students and their parents et al. "When I first heard this piece I was intrigued. I found it at once both simple and complex, obvious and mysterious. It is subtle, beautiful, and thought-provoking. I'd like to share it with you and see if you don't agree..."

Then I went up to the piano. I got my left hand into position, somehow the first note on the right hand just sort of played itself. Ooops. I paused a second, then launched into it. I played well. I put some emotion into it. I wasn't quite as brilliant as Emil. But it was good.

I plan to record that Scarlatti piece for the PW CD. I hope you enjoy it.

#1034604 - 10/07/04 03:42 PM Re: Recital Report
Cindysphinx Offline

Registered: 02/14/03
Posts: 6416
Loc: Washington D.C. Metro
You know, PJ, you might see about gathering more members by contacting music teachers. Maybe a few of them have adults who are reluctant to play with the little kids.

Just a thought.

Cindy -- who remembers that during her first public performance (group class at teacher's home), she could have sworn that some of the keys were actually missing
Vote For Cindy!!


#1034605 - 10/07/04 03:46 PM Re: Recital Report
pianojuggler Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/16/04
Posts: 1515
I think I found those missing keys on the piano at my recital. I don't recall that there were any pairs of white keys that didn't have black keys between them. This made finding C much more difficult than usual. Also, I think there were about seventeen white keys between middle C and the C an octave above it.

I'll go back and look at the piano. If the extra keys are still there, I'll mail them back to you.

My teacher gave me the name and number of the president of the local Music Teachers Association (or something like that). Someday I'll call him and he can put the word out to piano teachers that we're looking to do an AB Roundup.


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