Saturday, November 24, 2012

Minor fixes for a successful performance

Many musicians spend hundreds of hours preparing for a concert by focusing only on the technical execution of the notes. However, there is much more to putting on a concert than the music alone. Here are a few minor items musicians overlook. These take only a few minutes to fix, yet will make a huge difference in the quality of the performance.

1.    Is the stage ready? I have seen performances in which instrument cases are piled up behind the performers and even trash visible on the far corners by the curtains. I know a fine clarinetist that uses an elegant cut crystal wine goblet by his seat to soak his reeds. Compare this to the red plastic solo cups I see onstage from time to time.

2.    Are your shoes shined? Stages tend to raise the level of performers feet to eye level. Nobody in the audience wants to be distracted by shoes that even GoodWill wouldn't claim.

3.    One easy fix could be ironed out with...... well.... an iron. Wrinkled clothes that look you like you slept in them are distracting and sends a message to the audience that you didn't put enough thought into their entertainment experience.

4.     A concert is a dialogue between the musician and the audience. After a song is over, do you take time to acknowledge the applause? If your listeners are really moved by your musical rendition, then give them a chance to express to you how much they enjoyed it. Smile directly at them to let them know that you appreciate their attentiveness. Have you ever noticed a performer totally ignore the applause to start scrambling around the music stand, racing to get the next song up as soon as possible. It appears as if the musician is conveying a message to the audience that they want this concert to be done as soon as possible and won't be bothered with such trifle delays as waiting for the applause. 

5.     Take a minute before playing a piece to talk about it to the audience. Let them in to your thought process as to why you chose this particular piece and what it means to you. A little history about a song enhances then listeners appreciation of the piece and endears them to you. You are more than the music. Let them know that both you and the music are worth getting to know better. Injecting a little humor also eases the concert jitters and audience tension as well.

6.    Are you showing the listeners that you are enjoying yourself are really want to be there? If you look aloof and disinterested, why in the world would the audience be inclined to stay. if you can convey to them that this evening is going to be special, you have already won half the battle between you and what is available on TV that night. When I tell an audience that I can't wait for them to experience this next piece, I really mean it.

7.     When the event is concluded, hang around the lobby for a few minutes to give the listeners a chance to tell you in person that they had a great time. After all, isn't that part of the reason you became a musician in the first place?

good gigging!

Larry Marra