31.3.10

dear music students


i have been working at music-related environment for a long time. from 1998. just about ten years now. i have been to three separate universities and sat through many classes, slugging through sleep and boredom at times. i have sat there by the piano, organ, harpsichord, celesta, by myself, with a few, with a gigantic orchestra and choir. early morning sessions to midnight recording sessions. some on one day notice, some planned for six months in advance. some as listener. some as recording engineer. a handful as an usher and green room attendant at a major concert hall. a very few as a page turner (this is the most difficult i think).

and there are things that i have been thinking recently. and i may as well write to all of you, as it could be amusing, third person or first person perspective. as an audience or a player, whatever. a random passer-by even.

a recital is a great opportunity. one worked hard, it's not a surprise gig that was dropped on one's lap (well usually not), one have planned and put time, efforts, thought and sweats. and now it's time to present: to simply say what you want to, how you would like to, at this given time. it's not about judgement (though yes, one always judges if listening critically, but that's quite a different story), about good or bad. it's about you having to learn how to speak and people coming to hear you speak. as simple as that. so enjoy it. when people thank you, dont tell them you sucked. it's not your job to tell them that they dont know what they want to say, that they werent able to understand your performance. they are simply telling you thanks for music. whatever they got out of it, it is theirs. do not attempt to tell how they shouldve seen it- oh it was better yesterday, it was bad performance, i screwed up etc etc etc. it is very tempting, i donno why, but let's not. if one is to thank you, you are to say: you're welcome. simple isnt it?

and do take care of the things beyond playing. in a sense, playing itself would be the easiest part. as you probably practiced hours and hours toward to a performance. even when you think you are underprepared, still, think about all the time that you have lived so far. all those times and activities do contribute to who you are today. so though there always seem to be shortage of time, on the day of performance, stop worrying, perhaps try enjoying? and then there are very small things that one may overlook.

and do think about different perspective. that cute knee length dress may be a bit more showy than one may thought, especially if they are looking up. if you like that, then go ahead. just to say, make informed decision, that's all. often i do see malfunction with halter or strapless gowns as well. try them out for the program duration and make adjustments as needed. and oh yeah, wear shoes. dont put them on the stage. shoes are for feet. not stage.

one thing is time. if you are scheduled to play at 515pm and was told that you could be there by 445pm, then show up at 445pm. do not think it's alright to show up at 520pm because you think you have more time than the actual length of your recital. 515 is 515. not 530. do communicate with the support staff such as your engineer (if it is recorded), house staff (if there are some, or you could even assign someone to help you to gather people to sit before start, intermission, etc). they wont be able to read your mind. if they were, they would be making lot more money somewheres different. there are times when i have to guess when one is actually starting the recital. i cant be ready at a snap to start recording, get the lighting etc by reading your mind. and this applies to other places and other staffs as well. if you make their work difficult, your recording/performance may suffer. imagine: the most beautiful opening you have played so far.. and... it was not recorded because they couldnt tell. shame.

if schedule seems unfair, deal with it before the recital. but if you are scheduled on certain day and you did not take an action, do realize you do have a boundary to work with. length of a program is also an issue. you may think this may be the last recital you will get to play (and sigh, so many of us wont be doing it as soon as we would like to, that's true), so treat it with respect. a rant is only a rant. if it specifies 80 min of music, it is 80 min of music. not 81 min of music. respect the rules that you are given. if you dont like it, challenge it with all the conviction you can muster. but meanwhile, it's there. not because it pleases people, but because it's the lowest common denominator for all.

if the hall asks you to turn off cell phones, do so. even silent communication (your phone on mute) may not be so silent on recording (frequency interference and all that physics jazz). you may not want that recording now, but someone may want it, or you may even want it for yourself later. and the last thing you want is your phone to ring up in middle of a grande pause. just hit that red button. or watch it from outside.

simple things no?

well, do realize that when you put 'student' as your 'occupation,' then you are a professional student. most of us pay to go to school. it's not free. a recital at a school or a venue has guidelines. read your guideline and pick your fight well before your recital. but when you couldnt get it changed, for everyone's sake, do follow them, you could do the absolute minimal but that's fine. let us take you seriously. when you are acting like illiterate child, no one will take you seriously. okay. may be your bf/gf, or mom and dad might. but unless you plan to be forever attached to them as a cancerous growth, do grow up and behave responsibly. because in the real world, when you mess up, there'll be another x on your name. and there are more people than jobs. unless you like bagging groceries.

do remember that you cannot be sure who notices you where and when and how and for what. being known as a good pianist is one thing. being known as a jack ass is may be not the same. unless you are illiterate and deaf. but then you wont be reading this, so let's make a friendly assumption.

happy recitals!

ooh and if you want to start whenever, serve beer and have dancing girls, there's a good solution: have a private hall rental! call me if you have an open bar.

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