Posts tagged performance

Should Piano Tuners be Piano Players?

Is it necessary that a piano tuner know how to get around on the piano? No.  Piano tuners can competantly tune an instrument one note at a time.  HOWEVER, that said, it is an INCREDIBLE asset to know how to play to CHECK the tuning.  My background is in performance and teaching.  I started tuning only about 10 years ago.  When i first started tuning i would then play a favourite song and say to myself “BLECH… this is TERRIBLE!” hahaaa.  Then off i would go fixing what sounded ‘out’.  For a brief period in college i studied ancient Greek language.  The first 3 rules of interpretation are… context, context, context.  Similarly when tuning, the context of a note within a chord reveal pitch.  I’ve spoken about how some notes on certain pianos don’t sound ‘right’ and you can alter them to sound more…mmmm soothing instead of jarring or clashing.  And the way in which you tell if a piano sounds in tune is from playing a song, an arpeggio, a chord or melody.  So is it necessary to play if you’re a tuner? Absolutely not.  Anyone can play 2 notes at a time.  But is imperative to check the tuning?  Absolutely.

Piano Stage Fright

Recently i was having this discussion with a few friends.  Some think i’m crazy while others relate COMPLETELY.  This is Glen’s theory of stage fright. I believe that i get nervous 100% divided by the amount of players on stage.  So… if there are 5 of us on stage, 100/5 = 20%.  Yep. I get only a tingle of nervousness.  If however, i’m doing a duet, 100/2 = 50%… i get a bit more of the jitters.  If i’m going solo i carry 100%.  Stands to reason right? If i’m in a 100 voice choir, i hardly get nervous at all… maybe 1%.  See where i’m going with this? Actually… to be honest… hahaa i’m not going anywhere with this.  This is just something i’ve noticed in myself over the years.  About 20 years ago now i read a book called the Inner Game of Music.  He asks the question “If you were to play a simple song like… happy birthday on the piano, would you get nervous?  What about if you were to play the same song in front of thousands in a concert hall.  Would you then be nervous? What changed?  The song is the same and yet somehow we become more frightened at the thought of playing in front of other people.  He then suggests:

Performance = our maximum potential – internal distractions

Our performance equals our very best less any internal head games and distractions.  As teachers we push push push maximum output… we push skills, technique, repertoire.  In the book he wrote, “Why not also minimize distractions?” Huh. Interesting.  I’ve had very little time over the years being taught to perform… to analyze the stage… with the exception of Thomas Manshart.  He said “You need to OWN the stage.  You have been given the opportunity to interact with an audience… quite possibly to shock them, to make them pay attention to beauty… to sit at the edge of their seats.”  I believe that often as performers we are battling our wits than we are owning the stage – thinking about what we are communicating.  A retired concert pianist here in town doesn’t believe in recorded music.  Hahaa he calls it “information sound”.  “Truly” he told me once “music is a moment in time where you, as a performer interact with an audience… something recordings will never do”.  Interesting.  OK i’m blathering on now but i find i do find the concept of performance interesting… a topic we barely give air time to.

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