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Possible discussion points
#3022788 09/08/20 10:23 AM
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Hi folks--I wonder if there would be any interest in these subjects:

1: Ego as a main strength/weakness/driver of performers--that is, would any performer BE a performer without an powerful or even excessive ego driving the impulse?

connected to that are:

2: When ego is bigger than ability

2A: when love of performing/being center of attention is the driving factor in pursuing a music career (especially a big famous career)--not quite the same as #1.

3: the role of personal politics/salesmanship in music careers/getting gigs.


and unconnected:

4: the magic aura of being onstage/the center of attention--how does that work?

5: the freak show aspect of performing.


why I'm curious-- I have performed alot, and loved it, but only rarely did the work to get the gigs. I can't sell myself and can't learn how. I'm pretty much a loner and curmudgeon. And I noticed, both as performer and audience, that being the performer, ESPECIALLY on a stage, whether a full one or just a little riser, seems to add a magnetism to you, which is an ego feeder (and babe magnet).

SO--any thoughts?

Re: Possible discussion points
rogerzell #3022808 09/08/20 11:15 AM
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I think most performers in music and theater get a big ego trip from performing. Whether that's good or bad I don't know. I do think it's an interesting and important topic yet one that's rarely discussed at PW.

Re: Possible discussion points
rogerzell #3022907 09/08/20 04:21 PM
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My ego shrinks everytime I am on stage: the composers, their music, the venue, the audience (when I see them at all...) make me just feel very humble, not proud or the hero of the occasion, on the contrary, rather unlike some others presumebly.


Longtemps, je me suis couché de bonne heure, but not anymore!
Re: Possible discussion points
dolce sfogato #3022915 09/08/20 04:34 PM
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Originally Posted by dolce sfogato
My ego shrinks everytime I am on stage: the composers, their music, the venue, the audience (when I see them at all...) make me just feel very humble, not proud or the hero of the occasion, on the contrary, rather unlike some others presumebly.
This is very interesting. Do you think many professionals feel that way or are many the opposite?

Re: Possible discussion points
rogerzell #3022934 09/08/20 05:34 PM
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My ego shrinks on stage, too. I know that the music is always better than I am.

Regards,


BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190
Re: Possible discussion points
rogerzell #3022952 09/08/20 06:37 PM
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Hi folks--I was not clear enough in my post, I guess.

re #1--ego in performing--I meant, why do you try to get in front of an audience? (not how you feel once you ARE in front of them) Dolce and BruceD--your replies do not indicate whether these are pleasant or unpleasant feelings. If they are unpleasant, why put yourself in a position to feel bad? Or if they are good feelings, is it the pursuit of this pleasure that makes you get up there and play? Or is it simply "I want to be the center of attention"?. Or, not to put too fine a point on it, "I want to be seen as an artist"? Without knowing you, I run the risk of insulting, and yet the world abounds in people doing things for purely egotistic reasons, which may not even give them pleasure, only egotistical satisfaction (which I guess IS a pleasure of some kind). So, no offense intended. I'm just curious.

I now see that I was unclear in question 4 too--by "the magic aura of being onstage", I meant from an audience member's perspective, not a performer's.

I also think maybe I should have done my own confession, so here's my story:

when I played classical, I was always terrified. Eventually I decided that would never go away, because I knew my technique would never get good enough to let me feel confident.

So--as a pop performer (and most of my experience is as a solo player) I felt reasonably confident. But that wasn't enough, so I narrowed my field down to where I am just about unique (pre jazz Tin Pan Alley songs), and in that field I am completely sure of myself. It involves alot of improvisation, where I am completely sure of myself. I feel energized before, during and after a performance--never scared, uneasy or nervous--or humble. In this field, in some cases, I AM better than the material.

And I'm very aware of my ego, and the pleasure of being onstage, as a factor in why I do this (it's not the only factor--at one time, money was). But my ego is not driving me to the point where I wish to do the work/schmoozing/politicking/socializing of getting gigs, though that may change after quarantine. I certainly did some years ago, but found it frustrating and sometimes demeaning. Demeaning because too often the hirer had no interest or knowledge or ear, and was purely a money man/woman, or organization drone.

I say this last paragraph as an example of the kind of thinking I'm asking about.

Re: Possible discussion points
rogerzell #3023018 09/09/20 03:18 AM
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Regarding your point 1, it is an interesting question, and i guess i would separate out pros and amateurs. For pros, the question is rather complicated by the fact that it is their job. For amateurs, it is indeed interesting why would someone want to play for an audience when it is only only a hobby ? To imitate pros ? Pleasure to be on stage ? Ego and recognition ?

For me playing is more a social activity, either something that allows me to share with friends (or people that are gathered in a private event) or something i can do with other musicians. Even if i have done that, i dont feel any urgent need to stand in front of a public per se. But when i did, certainly both excitment and personal satisfaction to share with a group was the reward. I dont feel any particular ego satisfaction though. There are so many people playing better than i do (which is true for 99,99% of amateurs), that i dont see where there would be any place for an egoistic satisfaction for anybody of reason.

Re: Possible discussion points
Sidokar #3023053 09/09/20 06:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Sidokar
There are so many people playing better than i do (which is true for 99,99% of amateurs), that i dont see where there would be any place for an egoistic satisfaction for anybody of reason.
But, looking in the other direction, another amateur pianist might think they play better than most other amateurs and play, at least in part, for that egocentric reason. I think at least some and perhaps many who enter amateur piano competitions think that way. What else would explain the endless strategizing?

Re: Possible discussion points
pianoloverus #3023062 09/09/20 07:07 AM
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[quote=pianoloverus]But, looking in the other direction, another amateur pianist might think they play better than most other amateurs and play, at least in part, for that egocentric reason. I think at least some and perhaps many who enter amateur piano competitions think that way. What else would explain the endless strategizing?[/quote

Plover
Am I confused? I don’t believe you enter amateur competitions, so please forgive me if I’m incorrect. If it is true that you are not a contestant why would you presume why people enter and why they strategize?

Last edited by dogperson; 09/09/20 07:09 AM. Reason: Quote function error

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Re: Possible discussion points
rogerzell #3023067 09/09/20 07:20 AM
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Don't give someone food, give him listeners and the opportunity to talk about what he knows - such happiness! The situation is similar with musicians. Without some portion of the ego, you will always be silent in a dark corner)).

Re: Possible discussion points
rogerzell #3023110 09/09/20 09:22 AM
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The burning question (though it isn't at all hot for me cool) is: why would amateurs perform for an audience if they weren't paid, if it wasn't to boost their ego (assuming that they are performing of their own free will of course - we are not in the Stalin era anymore, thank goodness)?

While I wouldn't presume to speak for others (I enjoy presuming, but I'll suppress my natural inclination just for this post wink ), in my case, I love classical music and there's nothing that I enjoy more than to proselytize on its behalf - but only to those who are receptive to it. Just as I'd switch off and go into a deep meditative somnolence if a jazzer tries to get me interested in Cecil Taylor's atonal improv (really??), I wouldn't want to inflict classical music on anyone who has absolutely no interest in it.

Which is why, despite my performance anxiety (which has never left me even after years of performing - but I'm too old to care about it anymore), I agreed some years ago to take up an offer to play a monthly recital for a small audience of about sixty, some of which attend regularly. Because attendance is entirely voluntary, I know that there won't be anyone who dislikes classical music, though most know little, if anything about it. Prior to that, I'd only knowingly performed for an audience twice before in the form of lecture-recitals (again, because I was asked by someone who heard me play), in which I talked about classical music as well as playing the piano. So, that wasn't quite the same, as I was able to 'hide' behind my script (which I didn't actually use, and decided to ad-lib instead) and the piles of music scores on the table between me and the audience, not to mention my cassette-tape recorder, which I used for playing excerpts from a couple of orchestral pieces as part of my music illustrations.

And - though it wasn't my intention at the time - the recitals concentrate my mind, 'forcing' me to learn new pieces regularly as well as getting them to performance level, and playing them from memory. Lots of new challenges therefore (- I'd never performed from memory before, let alone for such a large audience), and I thrive on challenges wink ; having finished with music exams decades ago, there's nothing better than an ongoing incentive - with no final goal, unlike exams - to keep improving, and keep mastering new pieces.

But to go back to my original point, I never forgot how I was initially introduced to classical music by my first teacher, who played a short classical piece for me after every lesson. Everything ranging from Bach to Bartók. I was completely mesmerized by her playing: sitting beside me, unleashing torrents of sound & fury as well as the tenderest melodies - on the same tinny upright that I was practicing on, grappling with simple finger movements. Everything in the service of the music, and the composers. Decades on, even with easy access to all kinds of music on YouTube, I know that nothing can compare to live performances (especially when the performer is very close up) to inspire waverers to develop a connection to music that they might have doubts about liking before.

Which basically is why I do it - and yes, I do get a boost to my ego every time someone in the audience comes to me after my recital to ask about the music, the composer, or even how they might get started on learning the piano, or get back to playing again if they'd played as kids. I make myself as approachable as possible and never use terminology which only serves to 'elitisize' classical music. (I never give advice unless they want it - I'm happy for them just to enjoy the music I play, without going any further, like attending classical concerts etc.) And the biggest ego boost comes when someone with whom I chatted a few weeks previously keep returning to hear me play, and then tell me that they've taken to classical music in a big way, and are looking to buy a piano for their kids to learn.....or even for themselves to learn thumb. As well as those who, after attending my recitals, returned to playing again after a long gap (just as I did myself).

Incidentally, there's a big difference between classical and pop: in classical, you're serving the composer and his/her music; in pop, you are the star, not the song nor its creator(s). For instance, very few people know that many of the songs sung by the likes of Taylor Swift aren't written by her, but by certain anonymous Swedish song writers (I'm talking about the music, not the lyrics)......


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Possible discussion points
bennevis #3023136 09/09/20 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by bennevis
The burning question (though it isn't at all hot for me cool) is: why would amateurs perform for an audience if they weren't paid, if it wasn't to boost their ego (assuming that they are performing of their own free will of course - we are not in the Stalin era anymore, thank goodness)?
Stalin is certainly guilty of many crimes, but I don't recall among them the crime of making amateur pianists perform for an audience when they don't want to. laugh

Re: Possible discussion points
Nahum #3023138 09/09/20 10:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Nahum
Don't give someone food, give him listeners and the opportunity to talk about what he knows - such happiness! The situation is similar with musicians.
+1.

Re: Possible discussion points
rogerzell #3023183 09/09/20 12:02 PM
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Hi folks--cool!

Sidokar--no need to separate pros from amateurs. At some point the pro was an amateur, nor does a pro have to remain pro--could become an office worker. And even remaining a pro, there's always the task of getting another gig. The question remains--why do it at all? (and btw, I speak only of solo playing--if you're in a band, you play the gig)

And re "social" playing--among most of my friends my abilities are never referred to, which is the way I like it. Except one--who often bugs me to play for singalongs of oldies. At first I hated it, because it was not out of a desire to hear what I had to say--she wanted me to play what SHE wanted. But, she is so warm and kind that I now find that a pleasure.


Nahum--right to the point. I'd be interested to hear what you say about my other questions?


bennevis--I take it your Scottish somehow--re this bit--"I agreed some years ago to take up an offer to play a monthly recital"--what were the circumstances where someone would ask you such a thing? And why did you agree to do it?

Also--re this: "there's a big difference between classical and pop: in classical, you're serving the composer and his/her music; in pop, you are the star, not the song nor its creator(s)." For the purposes of my question, there is no difference. In both instances, you think someone wants to see/hear you, and you like the feeling of being wanted/idolized, and being the center of attention. Granted, there may be a few who honestly think they're doing the world a service (no matter how wrong they may be--hehe)--I count myself among them, about which a bit more below.

But to say there's no stars in classical music--I can't go with that. That's why there are so many strings on this forum about Horowitz, Volodos, Argerich et al. All other things being equal (including program), If Volodos and Joe Schmoe were both playing in your town on the same night, for the same price, you would go for Volodos. But of course in reality, Volodos would cost more, because he's a star.

The rest of that thought is, or should be, true: The classical player SHOULD serve the music, and the pop player IS the star, no question. But again, so many strings here are about how badly some classicists serve the music, to the point where they are ruining it.

I have attended concerts for both reasons--the player and the music. I saw Hamelin just because he's Hamelin--the program was not the draw, and in fact disappointed me a bit. And my friend didn't like his playing.


Iaroslav--re "Stalin is certainly guilty of many crimes, but I don't recall among them the crime of making amateur pianists perform for an audience when they don't want to"--I wouldn't put it past him AT ALL.


Now about me--I do what I do for many reasons, among them ego. But--what I do is play mostly obscure early 20th century pop music in what I think is historically correct manner, avoiding all latter-day jazz (or other) elements--harmonic, rhythmic and melodic--in short, how they sounded when new. I do this in the same spirit as any classical player does his/her thing. Nobody plays Brahms in baroque style, and hopefully vice versa. There's a whole movement devoted to "Historically Informed Performance Practice". Some people are stricter than others--using (mostly) reproductions of antique instruments, some string groups play standing, etc etc. While I don't use a 1915 piano, I pay careful attention to old records, piano rolls, and sheet music to form my view.

And the main reason I post videos of this is to make some record that they existed, and this is how an old Joe Schmoe piano player may have played them. Because, for some reason, actual piano solo records of pop songs from 1900-1920 are actually quite rare, to the point of none at all, oddly enough (barring virtuoso "novelty" pianists--if unfamiliar, google it. I am not one of them).

To be honest, ego plays a major part. But I get very few viewers or feedback, ergo my ego is less and less of my reason for posting.

Now, can we get some feedback about my other questions?

Re: Possible discussion points
dogperson #3023218 09/09/20 01:20 PM
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Originally Posted by dogperson
Originally Posted by pianoloverus
But, looking in the other direction, another amateur pianist might think they play better than most other amateurs and play, at least in part, for that egocentric reason. I think at least some and perhaps many who enter amateur piano competitions think that way. What else would explain the endless strategizing?
Plover
Am I confused? I don’t believe you enter amateur competitions, so please forgive me if I’m incorrect. If it is true that you are not a contestant why would you presume why people enter and why they strategize?
Because this topic of amateur competitions comes up a lot on PW and some have said so(together with other reasons). It seems fairly obvious to me. I have also discussed the motivations for competing with non PW members who play in amateur competitions.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 09/09/20 01:24 PM.
Re: Possible discussion points
rogerzell #3023276 09/09/20 03:07 PM
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hi dogperson--with my original question I was hoping to get unvarnished truth from people who play in public. Barring that, certain knowledge of why someone else does. Many people on PW don't do that. Or enter competitions. I have never done so, and I don't know why anyone would.

But I think it's safe to assume there are reasons, and there may be several rational ones, like:

1: I want to play in public.
2: I want to win the competition
3: I want the exposure, win or lose--it might lead to something else.
4: could be fun, what the heck
5: my friends talked me into it

and on and on--maybe Stalin made me.

aside from any coercion, I think we presume (or assume) that the main reason for competing is a hope for, at the least, a pleasant experience, whether ego massage, pleasure of being onstage, or recording contract.

I doubt anyone joins in hope of an ugly, miserable experience.

Re: Possible discussion points
rogerzell #3023280 09/09/20 03:14 PM
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Originally Posted by rogerzell
hi dogperson--with my original question I was hoping to get unvarnished truth from people who play in public. Barring that, certain knowledge of why someone else does. Many people on PW don't do that. Or enter competitions. I have never done so, and I don't know why anyone would.

But I think it's safe to assume there are reasons, and there may be several rational ones, like:

1: I want to play in public.
2: I want to win the competition
3: I want the exposure, win or lose--it might lead to something else.
4: could be fun, what the heck
5: my friends talked me into it

and on and on--maybe Stalin made me.

aside from any coercion, I think we presume (or assume) that the main reason for competing is a hope for, at the least, a pleasant experience, whether ego massage, pleasure of being onstage, or recording contract.

I doubt anyone joins in hope of an ugly, miserable experience.


Actually, there are a fair number of members here who participate in competitions. They should respond for themselves.


"Music, rich, full of feeling, not soulless, is like a crystal on which the sun falls and brings forth from it a whole rainbow" - F. Chopin
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Re: Possible discussion points
rogerzell #3023300 09/09/20 04:22 PM
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Originally Posted by rogerzell
Hi folks--cool!

Sidokar--no need to separate pros from amateurs. At some point the pro was an amateur, nor does a pro have to remain pro--could become an office worker. And even remaining a pro, there's always the task of getting another gig. The question remains--why do it at all? (and btw, I speak only of solo playing--if you're in a band, you play the gig)

Well, I would disagree with you. The fact that amateurs play for their pleasure makes a difference when for pros it is their job and the frequency is completely different too. At least for professional classical concert pianists. Pros were students, but to be a pro classical concert pianist, you have to specialize very early. When a pro turns to another profession, then his motivations changes. In my line of business, I talk frequently to audiences. Sometimes it is enjoyable and sometimes not so. Nevertheless I have to do it, whether I am in shape or not.

When I played the piano for a public, I did not have too. I could have refused and it would have costed me nothing.

Why did I do it ? Because every time I was asked by some friends and I found it interesting as another experience in life. I did not feel like my ego was any different before and after. But it is interesting to do once in a while, meet people and have exchanges, but I am not looking for it either.

Re: Possible discussion points
rogerzell #3023315 09/09/20 05:03 PM
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Originally Posted by rogerzell
bennevis--I take it your Scottish somehow--re this bit--"I agreed some years ago to take up an offer to play a monthly recital"--what were the circumstances where someone would ask you such a thing? And why did you agree to do it?
Like so many good things in life, call it serendipity whistle. (Or 'grab your chances wherever you find them.')

I was there for the first time to attend a conference, there was a grand piano there, I was itching to try it out (I'm drawn to pianos like moths to the flame wink ) before the mob arrived, the organiser encouraged me to do so......and the rest was history, as they say (or didn't say).

As to why I agreed to it, that first audience was very receptive to what I played (unadulterated classical music, not Clydermanized smirk ), everyone was in similar professions to mine, and I enjoy taking on new challenges, as I mentioned before. The same reason why I climb high mountains and run marathons and do various adventure races (even though I never have any hope of winning), go skydiving etc.

If - for instance - the organiser had asked me if I could stick to "popular classical" like Für Elise, I'd have said "Thanks, but no thanks." (BTW, I've never learnt, let alone performed Elise.) I was given carte blanche to play anything I liked.......which I do - but I don't lose sight of the fact that I have to carry my audience with me if I want to 'convert' them to classical.
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For the purposes of my question, there is no difference. In both instances, you think someone wants to see/hear you, and you like the feeling of being wanted/idolized, and being the center of attention. Granted, there may be a few who honestly think they're doing the world a service (no matter how wrong they may be--hehe)-
Believe it or not, I don't like being the centre of attention. I've never made a speech in my life that I didn't have to (which is to say - never), and I'm never in the forefront of anything - except when life & death (of anyone) is at stake. I don't attend any social gatherings that I don't have to (which is to say - not since I was a kid) because I can't make small talk. OK, I also hate making small talk......

Which is partly why I find it so fulfilling to perform there - because people then come and chat to me about classical music, not about why the sun is spotty nor why I'm still spotty even in my old age.

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But to say there's no stars in classical music--I can't go with that. That's why there are so many strings on this forum about Horowitz, Volodos, Argerich et al. All other things being equal (including program), If Volodos and Joe Schmoe were both playing in your town on the same night, for the same price, you would go for Volodos. But of course in reality, Volodos would cost more, because he's a star.
Actually, I'd go to neither. BTW, I've never heard of Joe. smirk

Of course, if a great pianist plays music I'm interested in, I'm more likely to attend, because I want to see what he/she makes out of it. But not if he/she doesn't. For instance, Zimerman struggled to get a decent-sized audience in London for an all-Debussy recital (both books of Préludes), Pollini struggled to fill even a few hundred seats in a small hall for an all-Nono concert. (I'm obviously not alone in being interested in the music rather than just the performer - which is the diametrical opposite to what poppers and jazzers do.) And both these pianists normally get sold out in the biggest concert halls in London when they play Beethoven, Chopin, Schumann, Schubert, Brahms.......


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Now about me--I do what I do for many reasons, among them ego. But--what I do is play mostly obscure early 20th century pop music in what I think is historically correct manner, avoiding all latter-day jazz (or other) elements--harmonic, rhythmic and melodic--in short, how they sounded when new. I do this in the same spirit as any classical player does his/her thing.

To be honest, ego plays a major part. But I get very few viewers or feedback, ergo my ego is less and less of my reason for posting.
You clearly do have ego as a reason for doing what you do. You're looking for numbers of viewers. I assume this is also why people who post photos and videos on social media and YT keep checking to see how many "likes" they get.

As for me, I'm not (and never have been) on any social media of any sort. If there're any videos of my playing on YouTube (and there might well be, as people have videoed me playing on public pianos as well as in my recitals), I don't know about them, and I don't care. And the last thing I'd dream of doing is to post videos of myself on YT.

You're obviously having a hard time believing that classical pianists would perform for reasons other than gratifying their ego, because you're so much into the pop world where that's often the be-all and end-all. Well, I suppose if you're a popper, you need the publicity in order to make money. Same for those classical pianists trying to make performing a source of their income, even if they have no ego to speak of. And I don't doubt that a big reason for some classical pianists to perform (including in amateur competitions) - or post recordings of themselves, not just on YT but also in PW - is to get their ego massaged whistle. Nothing wrong with that - after all, even I, a self-confessed shrinking violet wink , can understand that.

Quote
Now, can we get some feedback about my other questions?
Nope, because

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the magic aura of being onstage/the center of attention--how does that work?

5: the freak show aspect of performing.
.....is just totally alien (as in green aliens in Roswell) to me.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."
Re: Possible discussion points
Nahum #3023337 09/09/20 05:37 PM
Joined: Jan 2019
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Originally Posted by Nahum
Don't give someone food, give him listeners and the opportunity to talk about what he knows - such happiness! The situation is similar with musicians. Without some portion of the ego, you will always be silent in a dark corner)).

People may get some pleasure out of being the one who knows. And yet knowing something and loving something and sharing it in performance or talk can be a sparkling type of happiness, and I don't know that the happiness necessarily involves ego. This attitude might even be childlike—insistent, even stubborn, but not prideful.

----------------------

I assume there's some variation in personality.

Now, for classical professionals, if many of them have basically been implanted into prodigy+ land since childhood? (Ah, but that is stage 1. Personality might be responsible for who stays. Well...) If the driving work ethic was already required of them, and playing music was the natural way of life?

I do have ego, which might be a reason I shouldn't be taken entirely seriously....

Now, on to points:

1. I guess this depends on how you define 'performer'. Presumably this is someone who successfully plays for an audience. Is a performer anyone who successfully plays in front of others, or who performs specifically to perform for others, or who performs specifically to be seen as a performer? Even the second definition might not necessarily involve ego.

4. What is the mystique of being onstage? I like this question. Some people have gotten into flow while performing. Maybe there is self-consciousness (if you can't have flow), but that is also a basis for a relationship. I've read some sources that seem to insist that you should practice to mastery, not rigidity, that your playing should breathe and be flexible enough to color a piece just a little differently if the audience puts you in the right mood. (Without betraying the music!)

Does flinching when someone enters the empty commons from the back of the room count as a magical interaction with the audience?

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