May 28, 2011

Post-recital guest post by Bratsche


A long time ago, I promised Robin a post-recital guest post to share pictures from my viola recital. Better late than never, I hope.

These are some of the ingredients that went into the recital.*

My viola, made by Mark Moreland

Since I spent a long time practicing for my recital (very diligently for the 4 months prior to it, and fairly diligently the 4 months prior to those), here is the view from my studio window, which was an integral part of my preparation.

David Malki ! generously agreed to let me use his picture and idea from his poison paper card, which I turned into my recital invitations.

As with any big event, the closer it gets the more it becomes the main focus of attention. It had been long enough since my last recital (12 years), that I had forgotten what kind of a goofball I become in the days right before a recital (a mixture of sillyness and being a worry-wart). I am fortunate that my husband is patient and kind and willing to be reassuring over and over again (yes, people will come, yes, they will enjoy it, yes, you will play well).** I split my dress rehearsal up into two days so I wouldn’t tire my arms out too much right before the recital. Both parts of it went fine and were a good reminder of the intensity*** that comes during a performance.

We got to the church in plenty of time to get set up and for me to change clothes and get warmed up, and then I got to practice the “fun” part of the recital….waiting while the audience showed up and the clock ticked out the minutes until it was time to start. I played enough to keep warmed up but didn’t want to play too much, so I twirled in my twirly skirt and chatted with my pianist and stuck my tongue out at my husband when he came to check on us. I was, however, quite delighted to see some audience members showing up and know I wouldn’t be playing for just my family.^

Warming up before the audience arrived

I had chosen to start with some short, easy pieces (with piano) to get into the swing of things. They went well, although the adrenaline was stronger than I expected (note to self, don’t wait so long for the next recital). One of the advantages to having performed a fair bit, though, is that an adrenaline surge is not a new and unknown (and therefore possibly frightening or disrupting) feeling. So, I used all the tools I have learned over the years and keep fresh in my mind by teaching to my students,^^ and things settled in pretty well.

Then it was time for the big challenge of my recital — playing the Bach Suite from memory. I knew if I accomplished that, the second half of the recital would be just fine. I did have a memory slip during the first of the six movements, which made me start wondering if I was going to have to go get my music. I covered it well enough that I doubt most people even noticed it. It stands out to me when I listen to it on the CD, of course, but I don’t think it actually got in the way of the music for the audience. There was one other small slip in one of the later movements, but it was even less of a bump. I was really glad I had gone for the gusto and played it from memory for my own sake (knowing I could still do it); and I had several people comment afterwards about how much they had enjoyed hearing the piece without the music stand in the way (so to speak).

The second half of the recital also went well. There were a few places here and there where my pianist and I would have been happy to have another run at it; but that is quite often how a performance goes, so I was not bothered by that.

My pianist and I sharing a “we’re done and it went well!” smile.

And then the hard work was over and I got to chat with my friends and family and enjoy knowing that I had added some pleasure (and good music) to their day. Once most people had left, I continued winding down with further twirling, which I have always found very satisfying!

Twirling with my older daughter

Twirling with my younger daughter

I found it interesting that the strong sense of “wow, it’s done (and it went well)” did not hit until the next day. I am definitely pleased with how my recital went and am planning to do another one sometime in the next few years. I am already working on the piece I will memorize for that one.^^^

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* You can find my earlier posts about recital preparations here: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, if you are curious to read more about what led up to it.

** One of the pieces I played was the Scottish Border Ballad “I’ll Bid My Heart Be Still” which Rebecca Clarke arranged for her husband. I dedicated it to my husband right before I played it at the recital, which was a complete surprise to him and is one of his cherished memories of the recital.

*** Yes, words other than “intensity” might immediately spring to mind if you are not fond of being in front of people; but I have never had stage “fright” and have performed enough that I wasn’t too worried about how the adrenaline would affect me.

^ And my husband said “I told you so!”

^^ Breathe! Let your arms relax so your bow sinks into the strings. Focus on the specific goals you have set before hand. Breathe! Remember that you like this music. Project your sound. Breathe!

^^^ The second Suite for Solo Viola by Max Reger.


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