|Posted on March 4, 2012 at 11:15 PM|
When does the performance start? I’m not talking about the time of day when the performance starts. In fact, the performance truly starts prior to that 7:00/7:30/8:00 downbeat. It starts the moment you step on stage or the moment you are in “costume” in public.
“Wha…? But that’s not when the concert starts. And all-black/tuxes aren’t costumes…”
Let’s start with the costumes thing. To us musicians, our concert attire isn’t a costume. It’s a uniform. It’s work clothes. It’s what we wear to blend in with the rest of the folks on stage. But before we arrive at the hall, people see us and we stand out. Seriously, who wears a tux to Starbucks? People notice and some will ask! “Where are you going all dressed up in that tux?” I know so many people who have said something like, “Oh, I’ve just got this gig.”
Congratulations! You’ve successfully communicated to that stranger that you 1) don’t care about this gig and 2) they shouldn’t come see it because it’s not a big deal. Good job, Champ.
Instead of shutting them down, try something like “I’m playing with [name of ensemble] tonight! We’re playing [repertoire] and it’s going to be a lot of fun!” With this simple change, you have just opened the door wide for this stranger to reply with questions on where the performance is, how much tickets are, what excites you about this performance, what instrument you play, how long you’ve been playing, etc. You may have just gotten a complete stranger to attend your performance. And isn’t that what we want as artists - an audience?
We live in a culture that tends toward the negative and apathetic. I know I am guilty of falling prey to both. However, if we feed that negativity, we will shut out potential audience members, future musicians, and yes… donors. By taking the positive route, we open the door for those folks.
“What if I’m not excited about this concert?”
There must be something you find interesting on the program! Is the soloist exciting? Do you get to play loud stuff? Is your section playing an incredible melody? Is the group playing a piece that’s ridiculously fun? Isn’t playing music for a living supremely awesome?? Even if it’s one thing, tell that person you met about it! Get excited and infuse that stranger with your passion!
“No, seriously. There’s nothing exciting about this whatsoever.”
We all have our negative moments, but keep the vast majority of them to yourself, only share a little with your colleagues, and never ever let your audience know that you are less than excited about performing for them. As soon as you step into public in your classical musician costume, the performance has begun. Use this visual aid to your advantage by starting conversations with strangers and getting them excited about your performance!
Stay tuned for Part 2 where I discuss the performance beginning with a step on stage.