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The Story of My First In-Person Recital
#3046610 11/16/20 12:57 PM
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Hi everyone. I decided to write this because many of you were very supportive of me and asked me to let you know how my first recital went.

Yesterday, besides submitting my first mp3 for the ABF recital, I participated in my very first in-person recital. I played two short pieces: Gurlitt's Op. 82, No. 65, and Burgmüller's Op. 100, No. 3.

This will be a long post, so feel free to depart at any point :-)

It took place in a beautiful Spanish-style (I think) church in Miami (see link below for photos and a video of my performance).

I was 7th in the order of play and my nerves were killing me. It's not being on the spotlight that bothers me. I'm a professor; being in front of people is what I do for a living. But playing is different. One wrong note and it's over, especially in super simple pieces (I admit that, in complicated pieces, missing a 1/32 note is almost imperceptible to 99% of the audience). When you're speaking, if you make a mistake you just admit it and fix it. No harm done. But in piano playing that means having to decide on the spot what to do next. Go to the next bar? previous bar? repeat from the beginning? freak out and get up? all of that was going through my head.

When I was practicing the pieces, there were points I could identify as the most likely for mistakes. I then tried to simulate my making the mistake and planned for what I'd do if it happened. I think that practice helped me feel a bit more at ease. Still, the fear of the nervousness taking over and my brain shutting down was still there. I practiced both pieces at least 5 times each, every day, for the 30 days preceding the recital.

At age 45, I was, by far, the oldest there. There were kids ranging from (I believe) 6 or 7 to 15 years old. Several of the ones who played before me made clear mistakes and I felt bad for them. I wanted to get up and hug them and say it was OK. It was like I could feel their angst. My hands started to sweat. Good thing I brought a handkerchief with me.

My time arrived. I got up and marched to the piano. The host badly mispronounced my first name. I didn't care :-) I sat down, adjusted the bench position, set the handkerchief on my left thigh, reached out for the pedal and pressed it a few times to get a sense for how hard it was. Here's the thing with pianos, which you don't realize unless you play: they are all SO DIFFERENT! It's crazy! My teacher got me to play 3 different pianos (besides mine at home) before the recital. The different tones throw you off (did I play that note wrong? it sounds weird?), the amount by which they keys go down throws you off (whoa! this is so shallow!), the weight of the action throws you off, the looseness of the keys throws you off (why do these keys have so much side-to-side give?), the tackiness of the key surface throws you off (this keyboard is so slippery!), etc. That was another big source of concern. What will this piano be like? My teacher says: this is the life of a pianist; you must learn to adapt on the spot to whatever instrument you are given. I recently learned a term that professional pianists who tour use. They refer to the instruments not as a "piano" but as a PSO (piano-shaped object) :-)

I dry my hands one last time with the handkerchief and position my RH to play Gurlitt. Finger 2 on middle D, and finger 4 on the F. The RH is supposed to begin fast. I was aiming for 112 quarter notes per minute and the RH plays 1/8 notes. I sing the beat speed in my head for reference (ta, ta, ta, ta, ta, ta,...) while counting the beats until the LH enters with the melody (1 and 2 and 3 and) and off I go.
"Voice the top RH notes louder! Don't let the LH melody get overwhelmed by the repeating RH notes!" I remind myself.

Let me tell you something. This piano had the heaviest action I've ever touched in my life. To play piano on this piano and make it ring is like playing mf on my piano at home. It was ridiculous. I was like WTF! How am I going to play forte on this? "Stop thinking about this! Focus on the music!" :-) I told myself. Another surprise: the key surfaces were the grippiest I had ever touched. It was amazing! It was like every micro pore of the keys was equipped with a vacuum cleaner that quickly sucked moisture out of your fingertips. It was actually pleasant. I need to find out what material that is. I want my next piano's key tops to be like that. :-)

I finish the Gurlitt. No mistakes. Turn my body to the audience, bow, and they clap. Grab the handkerchief to dry my hands one more time. Check the pedal again (I'll need it now). Position my hands and go. My main focus for the Gurlitt was to manage to get the dynamics and tempo right. There are many hairpins (crescendo and decrescendo) in this piece, and a mini ritardando at one point in the middle before you pick it back up. I wanted all that to come across and I wanted it to convey feeling. Before the recital I kept repeating these two quotes to myself:

"To play a wrong note is insignificant; to play without passion is inexcusable." Beethoven.

and

"Put all your soul into it, play the way you feel!" Chopin.

When I finished I was glad not to have made any mistakes, but I wasn't sure I had accomplished what I wanted. Did it come through OK? The audience clapped, I grabbed my certificate of participation, and sat back down to listen to the remaining pieces. Oh and how lovely they were. I took note of a few pieces I had never heard before and put them on my "for a few years in the future" list. Some of these kids were spectacular. I was mesmerized watching their hands moving around. Such lightness and effortlessness. "I want to be like them one day." I told myself.

When it was all done. One of the kids whose play I really enjoyed approached me. "Hi. I just wanted to say I really liked what you did there. I loved your level of control and execution." And I was like "Really? Thank you so much! I also loved how you played!" He goes: "Thank you! How long have you been playing for?" "1 year and 4 months. And you?" "11 years." "Well then, I hope that in 10 years I can play like you." He smiled and we parted ways. What a kind young man. My professor also congratulated me saying I did a great job, especially with the ornaments. Listening to my performance afterward, I was indeed impressed with my ornaments. It seemed like I got them all right and crisp, which didn't always happen during practice. The church environment was very echo-y, so the recording isn't great because they didn't have mics right by the piano.

So there you have it. This is my overly-long and perhaps TMI story. If you managed to read all the way through here, congratulations and thank you for your support and encouragement. Here's an album I made with photos and a video of my performance. Enjoy!

https://photos.app.goo.gl/6ce34TogPz48CEeL7


Talão

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Re: The Story of My First In-Person Recital
Talão #3046615 11/16/20 01:18 PM
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Talão:

I enjoyed reading your detailed account of your first recital experience. We never forget how stressful these experiences can be, but we do learn and grow from them. Let us hope that this is the first of many for you and that as you gain experience you will gain confidence and enjoyment out of these events.

Your playing was quite nice; I think that you should be quite proud of this accomplishment and that it will encourage you, knowing that you can do it and do it well.

My one other comment would be not to turn to the audience, bowing from the bench, between the two numbers. Take a moment between the two to breathe deeply while sitting still, then begin your next number. After you have completed your performance then stand and bow to the audience.

Congratulations and thank you for sharing your journey.

Regards,


BruceD
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Re: The Story of My First In-Person Recital
Talão #3046616 11/16/20 01:20 PM
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Congratulations! I'm glad it went well for you.

That church is over-the-top ornate. I would so distracted trying to play there!

Sam

Re: The Story of My First In-Person Recital
Talão #3046618 11/16/20 01:25 PM
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Great achievement ! thumb



“To send light into the darkness of men’s hearts - such is the duty of the artist.”
- Robert Schumann

Re: The Story of My First In-Person Recital
BruceD #3046619 11/16/20 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by BruceD
Talão:

I enjoyed reading your detailed account of your first recital experience. We never forget how stressful these experiences can be, but we do learn and grow from them. Let us hope that this is the first of many for you and that as you gain experience you will gain confidence and enjoyment out of these events.

Your playing was quite nice; I think that you should be quite proud of this accomplishment and that it will encourage you, knowing that you can do it and do it well.

My one other comment would be not to turn to the audience, bowing from the bench, between the two numbers. Take a moment between the two to breathe deeply while sitting still, then begin your next number. After you have completed your performance then stand and bow to the audience.

Congratulations and thank you for sharing your journey.

Regards,

Thank you, BruceD. I agree the middle bow was a bit weird, but we were told to do that (bow after each piece if performing more than one). In hindsight, I am very glad I went through this experience and, as you said, I learned a lot from it. I do plan to keep doing recitals like this and also agree it will probably get easier with more practice. Fun times ahead!


Talão

Yamaha U3 and P125
Playing since July 2019
My piano journey
Re: The Story of My First In-Person Recital
Sam S #3046620 11/16/20 01:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Sam S
Congratulations! I'm glad it went well for you.

That church is over-the-top ornate. I would so distracted trying to play there!

Sam

I know, right?! It reminded me of the church in my middle and high school in Brazil. Baroque style, super ornate inside and super simple outside. It's all real gold leaf, by the way.


Talão

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Playing since July 2019
My piano journey
Re: The Story of My First In-Person Recital
Talão #3046639 11/16/20 02:18 PM
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Sounds like a great start to your recital "career." Thanks for sharing! And that church is amazing.

How did you feel about being the only adult? I'm in a similar position with my teacher's studio. Her older teenagers are SO awesome to watch. And most of the kids don't appear to have any issues with nerves at all. I'm jealous!


I ❤️ Mendelssohn, Yann Tiersen, Heller
Re: The Story of My First In-Person Recital
Talão #3046643 11/16/20 02:34 PM
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This was a very nice reading!
Thanks for sharing the experience of you first lice-recital with us smile

I think it is very inspiring for other early beginners as myself that you are deciding to put yourself out there and perform already from an early stage in your learning experience. This can only means amazing things for the future, as you also learn to feel more comfortable on stage. It would be lovely to see future performances of you and how you progress.

I think the church has definitely some Spanish architecture. The facade reminded me a lot of several churches we have in Colombia smile
Cheers smile


Lisztomaniac, inspired adult beginner, Scarlatti fan
Playing on a Kawai CA49, previously on: Casio PX-S1000
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Re: The Story of My First In-Person Recital
Talão #3046644 11/16/20 02:35 PM
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That was wonderful Talao! I loved reading your experience and hearing you play. You did so well. All your practice did you well. The church was beautiful. Such a nice setting to get to play in.

On the few occasions I have played in recitals my thought process was very similar to yours. I have many of the same thoughts running wild through my head. If I had a choice I would play first (of course you dont usually get the choice do you LOL!). But if you get the chance to just touch the piano keys before the recital starts maybe that might help. (Again this may be difficult especially with current situations).

Loved listening to you play. Thanks for sharing.

Zoe


Coming back after a long while.
My recent Recordings: Faber
My recent Recordings: Pianote

Re: The Story of My First In-Person Recital
JB_PW #3046652 11/16/20 02:51 PM
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Originally Posted by JB_PW
Sounds like a great start to your recital "career." Thanks for sharing! And that church is amazing.

How did you feel about being the only adult? I'm in a similar position with my teacher's studio. Her older teenagers are SO awesome to watch. And most of the kids don't appear to have any issues with nerves at all. I'm jealous!

Thank you, JB_PW! Good question. At first I was a little hesitant thinking that people would be like "what's this grown a** man doing in my kid's recital?" But then I switched to, "You know what? This is a recital. Its purpose is for people of all levels to practice playing in public and that's it." And my experience was that everyone was really receptive and happy for all of those who played. I especially enjoyed that one boy coming to talk to me. So I'd say go for it. It's a great learning experience.

As for nerves: I think making kids do recitals from an early age takes care of the nervousness problem little by little. So by the time they're 15 they may still have a bit of anxiety, but at a much lower level than mine. I expect mine will also diminish as I do more of these. We'll see!


Talão

Yamaha U3 and P125
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My piano journey
Re: The Story of My First In-Person Recital
Talão #3046653 11/16/20 02:53 PM
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Thank you very much AndresVel and ZoeCalgary!


Talão

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My piano journey
Re: The Story of My First In-Person Recital
Talão #3046658 11/16/20 03:12 PM
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Congrats! I can relate to your experience as an adult student taking lessons and half assily attempting to perform. I played in my teacher's monthly workshop this past Saturday, 2nd Mvmt Sonata #8 C Minor Beethoven. Only adult student on the Zoomcital ;0

However, I was called out for introducing Einaudi to the students. A young girl played Nuvole Bianche. But, be aware, some folks here might suggest that I'm polluting these young piano minds.


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Re: The Story of My First In-Person Recital
Talão #3046677 11/16/20 03:56 PM
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Talão, thanks for taking the time to share the story of your first recital! What a beautiful setting.

My first recital as an adult beginner (much older than you!) took place in January almost 3 years ago. I was nervous about it for days ahead of time even though (like you) I am accustomed to public speaking; I can do it with ease and actually enjoy it. Before the recital, I told myself "what's the worst that could happen?" and the answer was, clearly, "Nothing"! But I was still nervous! I was the only adult; the rest of the performers were about half as tall as me. Introducing myself, I made a tiny joke, the parents and grandparents in the audience laughed, and then I felt okay: they are with me, not against me! The actual performance went okay: not perfect, but not a disaster. And afterwards I felt exhilarated, the after-effect of my nerves. Several adult members of the audience said that they envied me and wished they were "brave" enough to learn to play.

So I think it is great to show up, be nervous, and do it anyway. Now, on my rare occasions to perform, if I am lucky, the performance "nerves" give me the energy to ignore the unhelpful noises in my head, stay in the moment, and keep my focus on sharing my music.

I hope that you, too, find joy in playing and in sharing your music with others. Good luck! Play on!


"Serena," my Estonia L168.
Re: The Story of My First In-Person Recital
Talão #3046773 11/16/20 11:44 PM
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Very nicely done, congratulations!! You controlled the nerves and gave a lovely performance. Such a gorgeous setting too!

I've done recitals as an adult as well, and have had parents and grandparents say afterwards that they admired the courage it takes to do a recital. And it does. You were great!


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Re: The Story of My First In-Person Recital
bSharp(C)yclist #3046782 11/17/20 01:03 AM
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Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
Congrats! I can relate to your experience as an adult student taking lessons and half assily attempting to perform. I played in my teacher's monthly workshop this past Saturday, 2nd Mvmt Sonata #8 C Minor Beethoven. Only adult student on the Zoomcital ;0

However, I was called out for introducing Einaudi to the students. A young girl played Nuvole Bianche. But, be aware, some folks here might suggest that I'm polluting these young piano minds.


If encouraging these young pianists to find music they enjoy playing is considered polluting their minds ...keep doing it. Our tastes in music continually evolve, but loving playing is the foundation that cements everything together. ... and it lasts.


"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
"I never dreamt with my own two hands I could touch the sky" - Sappho

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Re: The Story of My First In-Person Recital
bSharp(C)yclist #3046862 11/17/20 10:39 AM
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Thank you bSharp(C)yclist, Qwerty53, and JeanieA for your kind words and encouragement!

Originally Posted by Qwerty53
I hope that you, too, find joy in playing and in sharing your music with others. Good luck! Play on!

Yes. Looking back, I'm very glad I did this and I intend on continuing.


Originally Posted by bSharp(C)yclist
However, I was called out for introducing Einaudi to the students. A young girl played Nuvole Bianche. But, be aware, some folks here might suggest that I'm polluting these young piano minds.

Einaudi was already on my "to play when I'm good enough" list. :-)


Talão

Yamaha U3 and P125
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My piano journey
Re: The Story of My First In-Person Recital
Talão #3046870 11/17/20 11:01 AM
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Talão, thank you for this post. I can relate so much to your experience. I had my first recital as an adult about 5 years ago, when I was about your age, and I was also the only adult. I'm also a professor and have no problems speaking to a large audience, but playing piano is a completely different story. Even though I wasn't a beginner (I played as a child for 8 years, and then took lessons for about 6-7 years in my 20s), I hadn't performed for other people (besides my family) since I was 15 or so. At that first recital, I was playing 3 intermediate pieces, and my hands were just shaking during the first one. I had a small memory slip towards the end of my third piece but did pretty well overall. Since then, it's been ups and downs, mostly pretty good performances but at least one bad one as well. It doesn't help that my two daughters are among the students, so I always stress out about their performances, in addition to my own. Now I'm one of the more advanced students, so it's not as scary as it used to be, but it's always quite a challenge. And yes, a new piano always feels so different--once I sat down to accompany my daughter's clarinet performance at a local competition and started playing (while warming up) an octave higher, because spatially everything felt different (and they didn't have a proper piano bench). By the way, it helps to do a little warm-up on the piano before the recital to get a feel for the instrument--our teacher always encourages us to do this, but it might be different during the pandemic (we don't even have in-person recitals these days).

Having been in your shoes, I must say you did exceptionally well under pressure. You didn't make mistakes, you played with control and musicality, and most important, you were really performing and not just getting through the notes. Bravo! You should definitely continue performing, we only get better at it if we put ourselves in this situation and gain experience.

Re: The Story of My First In-Person Recital
Talão #3046899 11/17/20 12:43 PM
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Quote
. . . So I think it is great to show up, be nervous, and do it anyway.

+1 -- a very succinct formula!


. Charles
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Re: The Story of My First In-Person Recital
Talão #3046902 11/17/20 12:50 PM
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Just listened to the recording - you played very well!!

I wouldn´t be able to do this since I am very introverted and have trouble even giving presentations to my class. To be honest, just watching the video gave me anxiety... I can play for my family and friends though smile
I think the experience from your job may have helped you with this. I hope you will do as good in your next recital!

Re: The Story of My First In-Person Recital
Talão #3046909 11/17/20 01:07 PM
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Awesome, and thanks!

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