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WHEN DOES THE PERFORMANCE START? - PART 2

Posted on March 11, 2012 at 3:20 PM Comments comments (0)

If you have not read my thoughts on the musician’s costume and how it pertains to performance, please read Part 1 first.


Let’s say your audience hasn’t seen you out and about in your tux or fancy black. When does the performance start, then?


For you, the performance begins the moment you step on stage after the house doors have opened. Once your audience arrives in the hall and you are also present in the space, they are now seeing you as a performer. They are here to see YOU. So yes, my friend… you are now performing. Perhaps your instrument is not to your face or on your shoulder, but you are on stage and they are watching you.


So, why does this matter?


Simply put, there are many things that we “just do” while preparing for the performance that we don’t think about. We don’t consider the fact that it might look unprofessional from the audience’s perspective.


Ok, like what?


FOR EXAMPLE:

1. Being out of “costume” – Like I said, once you are onstage, you are performing so if you’re wandering around the stage, getting your instrument out while wearing jeans and a t-shirt, it looks unprofessional. It’s easy enough to get dressed at home, in the hall’s bathroom or in the dressing room. If you have to move equipment and would rather not get your tux messed up (ex: setting up percussion), arrive prior to the hall being opened and set up then.


2. Taking care of business – I’ve seen several personnel managers (bless their hearts) passing out checks while there are people sitting in the audience. As efficient as this may be, it’s not appropriate to pass out checks in front of the audience. That’s the equivalent of showing your date the check prior to you paying for it – the audience feels guilty and awkward because they’ve just been made profoundly aware that we are doing this for money (I will address this in a future post).


3. Language and Conversations – for the love of God… don’t swear while on stage. Sometimes there are microphones hanging from the ceiling and they will pick up your language. And onstage prior to the performance is not the appropriate time to talk about how little you want to be there. As I said in Part 1, save the whining for later and not in front of the audience.


These simple rules seem obvious when spelled out, don’t they? The basic rule is: be aware of what you are doing and how you are acting while performing. Always behave as if you are in the spotlight, because most likely… there is someone watching you.


Stayed tuned for next week’s entry, TACET, where I discuss the art of not playing.

Welcome!

Posted on February 21, 2012 at 8:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Music Etiquette? Why do we need etiquette??


As a classical musician, the majority of my training was in how to play my instrument better. After all, folks who work in a primarily aural medium should have a handle on that! However, we are not just musicians – we are performers. Other performers, namely actors and dancers who work in a more visual medium, are trained in stage presence. Musicians seem to lack significant education in this department and forget we're being watched.


So when we scratch our butts during a performance... the audience notices. And then they forget to listen to you, because they're thinking, "They just scratched their butt!!"


In addition to stage presence, I’m a stickler for stage decorum and how to work with colleagues in an appropriate, congenial way. I think there are many problems in orchestras and chamber ensembles that could be solved with a few simple etiquette lessons! Preferably over lunch. BLT, anyone?


Although stage presence and etiquette seem separate and don’t have a clear connection, I believe they are both essential to us as performers and neither is stressed enough in our musical education. I would like to compensate for some of that lack of education by writing down tips I’ve learned about these issues. Some points are obvious (but should be said anyway) and some are taken from the theatre and dance education I've had.


Sometimes I repeat myself so you might find certain topics like smiling, being genuine, etc. repeated over and over in this blog. But I find these subjects are incredibly important and worth repeating.


In addition to giving advice, I will also be taking questions! Are you sitting in rehearsal and have an etiquette quandry? Do you have a performance coming up and are unsure of your bow? I'd love to hear about it and help you out! I also welcome your opinions, so feel free to post in the comments section if you agree or disagree with what I've said. Though... no swearing. There are kids present.


I will be updating my blog once a week, so please check back next Sunday for my first real entry entitled, “When Does the Performance Start?”.


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