Classical musicians are entertainers
Yes, classical music is art; but it's also entertainment. When you perform, you are providing entertainment, albeit of
a high quality. See yourself as an entertainer, not only a musician, and your performance will improve greatly.
The reason? Entertainers focus on the needs of their audience; this audience-centric view demands that a
performer place themselves in the shoes of the public. How much, how little you practiced, whether you broke
up with your significant other last week, or today's upset stomach mean very little to an audience that is giving you
the privilege of their time and attention.
By all means practice as diligently as possible to give a near-flawless performance. However, at performance time,
stop focusing on minutiae which probably means little to your audience. Instead, make it your mission
to ENTERTAIN them with your performance. Or as my former piano teacher, Milton Kaye used to say, “I don’t care
how perfect you play…just don’t be boring!”
Understand Stage Fright
Barbra Streisand, Elton John, and Van Cliburn are experienced, universally acclaimed entertainers. Yet they each
suffer from strong, sometimes crippling stage fright. In an interview with Connie Chung, Andrea Bocelli was asked,
“When you perform on stage, are you nervous? “ Bocelli responded, “Oh, it's difficult to explain how much. I have big,
big stage fright.”
Stage fright is a frequent condition of performance, and even very seasoned celebrities are stricken from time to
time. A host of factors, including negative or irrational self-statements, contribute to performance anxiety.
You can be nervous and still give a great performance. You can play less than perfectly, and still give a great
performance. Audiences tend to be very forgiving of nerves and a few missed notes. However, you have to play with
complete passion and dedication. Not only are you going to move your fingers to produce a few sounds, you are
going to reveal something wonderful and beautiful to us.
You’ve only got 10 seconds
George M. Cohen, seasoned singer and dancer once said, "The most important part of any act is the first ten
seconds and the last ten seconds...what happens in between isn't that important." This is the great challenge
for any performer: how to gain, and hold, an audience’s attention?
What are the musical elements of your piece?
What are the musical elements of your piece? Every musical and dramatic work takes its audience on a journey,
generally consisting of the following elements:
emotional message. Also, the performer must build gradual tension (when applicable), leading the
audience to the musical climax.
tone, dynamic expression and musical touch. The importance of the climax for audience understanding and
satisfaction cannot be underestimated.
cues which aid this transition include:
Be proud of yourself. As a performer, it takes a lot of guts to stand in front of strangers and bare your creative soul!
Even if your piece has been performed a billion times, no one can or will ever play like you do. Take pride in your
uniqueness as a performer. When you stand up on stage, we want a revelation, a direct connection with you. Don’t
be afraid of this spotlight, the audience is on your side; they want and demand your success.
Very few people attend a performance or concert to see someone fail. However, the public does expect you to take
their time seriously, and do something unique, even surprising to hold their attention. If there is one thing you never
want to be as a performer, it is boring.
Every amateur musician has the capacity to perform in a way that moves his or her audience. You know what you
like in a performer. You’ve been part of a discriminating audience for most of your life. Play for your audience the way
you’d like someone to play for you.
Perform your piece with intensity, with absolute presence. Forget about the mistakes….focus on the overall
message. Play your piece as if it’s the last time you’ll ever play, and force your audience to listen to your piece as if
they’re hearing it for the first time.
|Copyright: Amateur Classical Musicians Association, 2009 Questions or comments? Please contact us.
Supporting the talent and
dedication of amateur classical
musicians throughout New York
City and beyond