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Emily Grossman


May 8, 2006 at 1:35 AM

I should have put half of my students under metronome arrest today. I saw tempos at the recital that I'd never seen before, tempos that I didn't know were humanly possible!

Here's what I learned from my own performance:

1. Don't use the music if you've memorized it! I sacrificed 3/4 of my performance stumbling with distracting notes in front of me, just to secure two measures I was afraid I'd forget. A memory lapse would have been more excusable than the way I played today with the music. Once I hit the cadenza, I said to-heck-with-it and played the ending by memory and nailed it.

2. Bow quivers are negligible in a large room. I have proof; I recorded it. (No one will ever hear that recording, though!) I performed on a new stick today, a Bigot that I bought from Gennady Filimonov after visiting him in Seattle. It was my birthday present, and I got it just in time for the recital. The action is more lively and stiffer, and very clean and articulate. Unfortunately, my nerves went straight into my bow, and I wasn't used to its reaction, which only made it worse. Fortunately, I think it forgave a lot of my bowing sins. It's a very tidy bow. Reminds me of Ivory soap.

3. The way you sound up close is completely different that the way you sound in a hall. As badly as I played, when I listened to it afterward, I was amazed at the phrasing and articulation that sounded so smooth and crisp, when at home I played much better and sounded much worse (when recorded up close). Dynamics were also much more pronounced.

My students really pulled it together. A word of advice to all performers: don't make faces or utterances of disgust, and don't stop cold and try to fix something that's already gone. Keep moving forward. Most people would never notice. How you deliver it either makes or breaks the performance.

It was a real treat to see them all putting out their best effort. I wish I could make them understand that they can all be proud of themselves for their courageous effort, even if they missed a note or two.

Finally, I want to publicly acknowledge my husband George, who has been going nonstop since I got up this morning, making everything flow seamlessly and reducing my stress level.

I can't believe all that we did today... Glad it's over.

From Colleen Russo
Posted on May 8, 2006 at 3:03 AM
Sounds like an overall great recital, Emily!! Yay! I'm sure your Mozart was WONDERFUL and those crazy tempos from your kids are out of pure nerves, so its great you are doing these recitals so they get experience!! I hated recitals growing up(heck i still do) but they are so important.
From Keith Laurie
Posted on May 8, 2006 at 4:32 AM
Glad it went well for you and your students. I wish I'd known in time, I would have attended today.

My first recital is next week. My performance in the rehearsals so far has been dismal. Playing beside other cellists who far exceed my capabilities causes me to lose my intonation. My fingers just can't find those ringing tones that I get at home :(

Wish me (and my teacher) luck!

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on May 8, 2006 at 4:42 AM
Congratulations, Emily. It sounds like your recital went very well, especially your own performance.

It is so true that the manner of delivery really makes or breaks the performance. I'm glad you reminded us of this. Stopping does ruin delivery and also makes it impossible to play with others. Some people are very critical of themselves and stop after a tiny error. I've been told that after making a mistake, you should just keep going and make the same mistake the same way on the repeat. The audience will not know that it was a mistake.

From Theresa Martin
Posted on May 8, 2006 at 3:25 PM
Great thoughts--good to be reminded of those things--keeping going, not making faces, etc. Of course, if you're playing with other people and you mess up, you could always make a face at another person, so the audience thinks that it was him instead of you (just kidding, though I have seen people do that before) no, no one would ever do that....

I haven't recorded myself at all, but interesting observations about up-close and far-away.

I too hated recitals as a kid, and have no intention of ever subjecting myself to something like that again. But I really do like hearing other people play.

Thanks for your (always interesting) observations.

From Emily Grossman
Posted on May 8, 2006 at 10:58 PM
It's funny, how many people say they hate recitals. I advocate them even if everyone hates them because for most of my students, they need a "due date" to help them keep their goals. Many of them never reach their potential until they have to stand up and play in front of people. I can include myself on that list, too.

After the recital, a 3-year-old whose sisters are currently taking from me approached the piano. The mom said, "She really likes to pick things out on the piano." Her hands were so tiny she moved them like a gymnist doing a floor routine, crossing over and hopping from high to low, her seat scooting across the bench. She played Alouette by ear, with harmony.

I want her!

From Gabriel Kastelle
Posted on May 11, 2006 at 3:35 AM
"Metronome arrest"-- that's house arrest with a metronome, to prevent cardiac arrest and arrhythmnias, I presume...

I hope you will get to work with the harmonizing youngster-- you would have a special task for yourself preserving the quality and joy of those ears of hers. Fun! Good luck...

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