My passion is to help others in the community, young, old, and everyone in between, find relevance and joy in learning, performing or listening to classical music.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The power of a few words of thanks to a piano collaborator

© Ariwasabi -
I'm not going to say much in this post because I don't want to detract from the words I'm about to share.  

This afternoon I finished practicing, opened my computer and found an e-mail in my inbox from a young saxophonist I accompany with the subject line, "The Glazunov."  I opened up my calendar first, thinking this would be a rehearsal request, returned to my e-mail to start reading and my heart skipped a beat...or two.  Here is what I read:
"I just wanted to let you know that I have been listening to the orchestral version of the Glazunouv [saxophone concerto] quite a bit over the last week or so, and I have a renewed appreciation of everything that you do as an accompanist. The sheer number of different parts that you have to cover and the orchestration in them which you emulate is absolutely crazy and a true testament to your musicianship.   I am excited to give it another shot the next time that we play together."
 I am grateful for the people that I accompany and collaborate with and I am regularly blessed with not only shared music with others but also with words of thanks and appreciation.  This e-mail serves as yet another example of why I do what I do and it also gives me an opportunity to let folks in on an important truth - genuine appreciation for what we accompanists and collaborators do means the world to us.  Our job is largely about other people so to know that we truly are seen as part of the equation can be a gift that keeps giving from one performance to another.

So go ahead...fill up your collaborator's inbox with some appreciation.  It will be a welcome change of pace to all those rehearsal requests that we get.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Finding the perfect audience - it's easier than you think

© sevaljevic -
The perfect audience.

I'm not talking marketing.  I'm not talking programming.  And I'm not talking about anything that has to do with money or "making it."  

I'm talking about the perfect audience in a very personal sense.  It's a key, I think, to opening many doors for musicians of all ages and stages.  Whether it's the nine-year old who's about to walk onstage to play for a handful of judges, the symphony member who is about to join 100 other colleagues in the concert hall, or the recording artist that is about to spend hours in the recording studio hoping for the perfect take - each of these musicians desires to do his or her best.  But for whose sake?  For whom are we playing?  Are we trying to speak to and please each individual in the audience?  If we are, isn't that asking a lot of ourselves?  

A few months ago a friend posted a YouTube video on my Facebook page that answered this question  for me in a powerful way.  In the video a tuba player that played with the Dukes of Dixieland band, Richard Matteson, talks about a recording session he was involved in with Louis Armstrong.  In the course of the session the band witnessed Louis performing for two very different but important audiences all within the confines of the recording studio's walls.  And those very well-defined audience members, his wife and God, made the performances what they were - personal musical gifts that were were given with unconditional love coming from both directions.  Here is the video so you can hear the story for yourself:

"I always play for somebody I love.  That's all.  You play for somebody you love, all the time.  They wanna listen, that's cool.  If they don't want to listen, it's still cool cuz I was gonna play for Him and her anyway."  
Does this type of approach to performing exclude anyone else that might be sitting in the audience? Personally I don't think so.  In my experience it's performances like this that hand the music and the musician's own self over to the audience in one powerful package that has the ability to move, embrace, and thrill whoever is open to receiving.  

Perhaps this reveals something not-so-positive about me, but my personal audience is myself, all the time - not the perfectionist self or the practice room self, but the me that fell in love with music when I was a little girl.  Performing is a gift for myself that I like to share with anyone else who cares to listen.  If they like the gift too, that's cool.  If they don't, that's still cool.  

You'll still find me smiling and walking onto the stage again...and again...and again.