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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Sat May 08, 2010 9:24 pm 
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Location: Germany
Monica, how was your recital? How did you organize it? Did you perform alone? How was the experiment with beta blockers? Which pieces did you play? Who were your audiences?
Tell us!!!

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"The love for music. The respect for the composer. The desire to express something that reaches and moves the listener." (Montserrat Caballé about her main motivation for becoming a singer)


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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Sun May 09, 2010 4:36 am 
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I organize a recital every year - the audience is all neighbors. We usually have around 120 people so I have to rent a large room at one of our libraries that has a piano. It's the type of recital where players just play one piece and then it's the next person's turn. I always perform last and usually do not play that well because of my nervousness. No matter how well I know the piece, it's the same story. This time I played one of Mompou's Cancions & Danzas. I have it memorized and it went better than usual because of the beta blockers. I am happy to report that they worked!

p.s. I was sometimes a soprano, sometimes a second soprano, and sometimes an alto. It depended on where the director needed me since I could read music and find the pitch.

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my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Sun May 09, 2010 4:26 pm 
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It must be nice having musical neighbors. Or at least appreciative of music. People around here are totally backward in that respect. I guess that's what you get for living out in the boonies.

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Sun May 09, 2010 5:43 pm 
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techneut wrote:
It must be nice having musical neighbors. Or at least appreciative of music. People around here are totally backward in that respect. I guess that's what you get for living out in the boonies.


Yes, I live in a rather large town. But the neighbors at this recital attended because I collected some money from each of them (or tried to). Costs me $225 to put this recital together and I got about $110 from the group. Oh well....every year I say I'm not going to do it anymore, but then I do. So basically I pay to make myself a nervous wreck. :roll:

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my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Mon May 10, 2010 12:17 am 
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pianolady wrote:
Yes, I live in a rather large town. But the neighbors at this recital attended because I collected some money from each of them (or tried to). Costs me $225 to put this recital together and I got about $110 from the group. Oh well....every year I say I'm not going to do it anymore, but then I do. So basically I pay to make myself a nervous wreck. :roll:


What a wonderful thing to do for your community, though... I'd love to be one of your neighbors. :D :wink:

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Though everything else may appear shallow and repulsive, even the smallest task in music is so absorbing, and carries us so far away from town, country, earth, and all worldly things, that it is truly a blessed gift of God.

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Thu May 27, 2010 6:24 pm 
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Dear Diary, (that's what I'm calling this blog sort of thing - or just a way to get some things off my chest... )

It just hit me that the competition is exactly four weeks from today. Maybe this is a common malady, but I'm getting a little tired of practicing the same pieces every day. My normal practice time is about 2 to 3 hours each day. But there are days (mostly recently) when much less time is spent. It's like sometimes I think about having to get to the piano to practice, but keep postponing because I know all the hard work there is to do. Have to practice every little thing and drill on certain bars over and over, etc. And then there is still some memorizing that needs to get accomplished. I'm playing three pieces for the first round and have two of them totally memorized, but only 3/4 of the other one. There are about ten measures that just aren't sticking in my brain. We are allowed to use music, though, so guess I'll have just that one page on the piano and look up at it when I get to the spot. Hope that's not too weird...

My second round pieces are a lot longer and although I've been practicing them very hard, I doubt I can get them memorized. One of them is maybe half-way memorized just from the fact of practicing it a gazillion times. I did memorized two of the pages on purpose though because it's too hard to look back and forth between the keys and the score. Wish I could get the whole thing in memory.

My third round pieces I have not spent much time on at all. It's doubtful that I will make it even passed the first round. But my thinking is that it could be possible that everybody else does not play so great on the first round and so I miraculously advance to the second round. Okay, it's a long-shot, but it can't hurt to dream... But now what if everyone (except me) in the second round plays poorly and another miracle occurs and I advance to the third and final round? I know, I know...that's not going to happen, but IF it does, I think I will say 'no thank you'. I'm not totally sure if one can even do that, but the thing is that I'm not sure I can get my final round pieces up to the same level as the other pieces in my first and second rounds.

So..that's all...I should really get to the piano now. Time to try for the hundredth time to memorize that one spot. But I so much want to play something different! I've got all this newly acquired music sitting on my piano and I'm dying to play it, but any time spent trying to learn it is time I should use on my competition pieces. Makes me feel guilty, sad, nervous, scared, bummed out... I dunno - guess I just need someone or something to give me some sort of 'kick in the pants'. At least I still enjoy my competition pieces - that's something. Just wish I had them all down 100% right now! And I'm not complaining - I very much want to be doing this competition. Still have to go shopping for some new dresses, though. That's on next week's agenda. Have an appointment at the salon in a couple weeks too - may go with a radically new hairstyle, or maybe not, we'll see. I usually chicken out and don't do something as bold as that. But I never thought I'd enter a piano competition either and now look...

Ok, I mean it this time - I'm really going to go practice now...

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my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Fri May 28, 2010 9:54 pm 
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Dear Diary,

Never thought it would happen, but today I played through that one trouble spot - by memory!! Very happy about that since I've been trying and trying...The only thing is that it's not really in my head, just finger (muscle) memory, which is probably not the best thing. Hope it stays there. Also, the earlier part of the piece which I thought I had pretty well memorized was pretty messy today. Slips and memory lapses galore! Still needs a lot more work...

One other bright spot - my really, really hard piece is coming along. I can tell because I'm beginning to space out while playing it. Meaning, I start to daydream and think about someone (today was someone on PS :) ) while I'm playing. I can only do that when I know the notes really well!

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"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties." ~ Frederic Chopin

my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
my personal website: http://www.monicaalianello.com


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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Mon May 31, 2010 1:37 pm 
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It's a three-day holiday weekend so I have not had as much time to practice. While I did go through all my pieces yesterday, the one with the memory problem is still a bit 'iffy'. Seems it's getting worse rather than getting better. But I know that's because it's not quite there yet, although it is getting close. The problem now, though, is that I have a lot of pain not only in my usual place (wrists) but now it's in my fingers - the bones. A little worried about that. Have family coming over today for another cook-out so that keeps me off the piano again, which gives my hands/fingers some rest. And tomorrow I start shopping for clothes. More rest for my hands, but not for my wallet!

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"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties." ~ Frederic Chopin

my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
my personal website: http://www.monicaalianello.com


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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Fri Jun 04, 2010 5:27 am 
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T minus three weeks....

Had a lesson tonight. I played pretty badly. But my teacher had many great suggestions on where I can improve - and really I just need to knuckle down and practice my fingers off these next three weeks. This week I was too busy shopping and I still need to do one more shopping trip tomorrow. Argh - I hate shopping! Takes soooo long and I've spent a lot of money so far. At least I will return half of the dresses after the competition, since I probably won't need/wear them. So that's about it for now...

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"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties." ~ Frederic Chopin

my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
my personal website: http://www.monicaalianello.com


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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Fri Jun 11, 2010 4:54 am 
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T minus two weeks. I'm getting pretty excited.... :)

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"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties." ~ Frederic Chopin

my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
my personal website: http://www.monicaalianello.com


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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Fri Jun 18, 2010 3:08 am 
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Good luck Monica. Wish you all the best!!!

As far as practicing, don't overdo it. 3 hours a day is fine, but don't forget to take 5 minutes break each hour.
Also, when you go to the competition, go with the mind of a winner.

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Fri Jun 18, 2010 3:50 am 
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Thank you very much, Avguste! :D I really can't believe that it's only one week away now. It used to seem like it was so far away...

I'm practicing like the dickens these days! But I found out that a lot of the competitors are people who have been in several competitions already. One of them was second place at the Van Cliburne Amateur Competition, some others at the Boston, others at some Asian competitions - it's like there is this group of pianists who go around entering competitions all over the place. I had no idea! And I doomed!!! But that's okay - I'm still giving it my best shot and try to remember to just enjoy myself and take in the experience. Who knows, maybe I'll do this again someday (if I survive this one :lol: ).

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my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Fri Jun 18, 2010 8:36 am 
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Hi Monica, best wishes from me, too :D!!!!
You know, you are to me the pioneer, who does it for the first time among my amateur music friends! So I cheer for you most heartfeltly :!:
And don't forget, also the people who already won prizes somewhere had to go through the first fluttering experience before!
When is the first round? I'll mark the day on my calendar and think of you :D

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"The love for music. The respect for the composer. The desire to express something that reaches and moves the listener." (Montserrat Caballé about her main motivation for becoming a singer)


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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Fri Jun 18, 2010 5:12 pm 
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I'm cheering you on too, Monica! You can do it! As I remember, one of the finalists or semi-finalists in the last Cliburn Amateur had never played for anyone or any audience other than her fourth-grade school class that she taught. Just have lots of fun. :D

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Though everything else may appear shallow and repulsive, even the smallest task in music is so absorbing, and carries us so far away from town, country, earth, and all worldly things, that it is truly a blessed gift of God.

Felix Mendelssohn


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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Fri Jun 18, 2010 9:01 pm 
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Good luck, Monica!

I will never be able to enter any competitions. I'm too old for the normal ones, and since I am working on a piano performance degree, I am not eligible for the amateur competitions. :(

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"Z Czernym poznałem się na panie brat—na dwa fortepiana często z nim u niego grywałem. Dobry człowiek, ale nic więcej..." - Fryderyk Chopin


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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Sat Jun 19, 2010 12:58 am 
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Pianolady wrote:
Quote:
there is this group of pianists who go around entering competitions all over the place. I had no idea! And I doomed!!! But that's okay - I'm still giving it my best shot and try to remember to just enjoy myself and take in the experience.
Hi Monica, you can't move up if you're looking down. Yes, there is an aggressive group of perpetual competitors, as some have ego's the size of Texas. Don't be intimidated these few who have to show off their "greatness" to others through incessant competitions - it's a form of insecurity. You're not like that. I say find the greatness within yourself by communicating your musical passion through your understanding and creative spirit. By now, don't worry about the notes or infinitesimal particulars of the music... Put it all behind you. Just focus your attention on the clarity of your musical voice/message. Find this voice, and you'll be surprised how many with which you will connect... Don't forget to smile! Good Luck! :D

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Sat Jun 19, 2010 5:08 am 
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Thank you Hye-Jin, Sarah, Theresa, and George. I appreciate your kind words very very much! :D

@Hye-Jin - I play on Thursday June 24th at exactly 11:36 in the morning (my time :wink: ). If everybody could say a little prayer right then, that would be great!

@Sarah - that's nice to know about that teacher. And yes - I aim to have fun (after I'm done playing on Thursday... :lol:)

@Terez - your excuse will not fly. More than half of the competitors have piano performance degrees (see why I'm worried?).

@George - what you said puts things in the right perspective, for sure! And I totally understand and feel those words very deeply. I just don't want to bomb and make a total fool of myself. But you can count on me smiling; at least I don't have to practice that! :wink:

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"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties." ~ Frederic Chopin

my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
my personal website: http://www.monicaalianello.com


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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Sat Jun 19, 2010 8:54 am 
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All of the amateur competitions I have looked at said that a piano performance degree would disqualify you, but I have to admit I haven't looked into it that much.

I don't pray but if I am awake at that hour I will play some Chopin for you. ;)

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Sat Jun 19, 2010 4:33 pm 
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Hi Monica,

Best wishes also from here -and I utterly second George's advice.

Be yourself (it's not that bad!) :wink:

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Alfonso Bertazzi, amateur pianist.


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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Sat Jun 19, 2010 11:01 pm 
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Quote:
@Hye-Jin - I play on Thursday June 24th at exactly 11:36 in the morning (my time :wink: ). If everybody could say a little prayer right then, that would be great!

That is 6:36 pm in Germany! Ok, I'll say a prayer right then :D

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"The love for music. The respect for the composer. The desire to express something that reaches and moves the listener." (Montserrat Caballé about her main motivation for becoming a singer)


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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Sun Jun 20, 2010 12:06 am 
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I will be sure to say a prayer, too. I think it will be an hour earlier here since I'm in the southwest.

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Though everything else may appear shallow and repulsive, even the smallest task in music is so absorbing, and carries us so far away from town, country, earth, and all worldly things, that it is truly a blessed gift of God.

Felix Mendelssohn


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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Sun Jun 20, 2010 4:42 am 
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Thank you, Alfonso. Just be myself - ok, I can do that. :)

Hye-Jin and Sarah - you are like angels :) Thank you again!

(can angels cure illness? I woke up this morning with a sore throat and fever. Of all the time! :x )

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"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties." ~ Frederic Chopin

my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
my personal website: http://www.monicaalianello.com


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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Sun Jun 20, 2010 6:21 am 
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It usually happens that way; stress weakens the immune system. :(

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Sun Jun 20, 2010 2:23 pm 
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Terez wrote:
It usually happens that way; stress weakens the immune system. :(


True. I took a lot of vitamin C pills yesterday and today - also ibuprofen to knock my fever down. I'm still pretty achy all over - especially my arms. I doubt I can get any decent practicing done today. On the bright side, I lost 5 pounds! About three weeks ago I was dress shopping for this event and fell in love with a certain dress and bought it even though it was sort of tight around the stomach area. Now it's looser - I may actually be able to breathe while playing! :D

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"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties." ~ Frederic Chopin

my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
my personal website: http://www.monicaalianello.com


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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Sun Jun 20, 2010 4:34 pm 
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Hi Monica, this is an opportunistic malady at an inopportune time! I bet you're not getting your essential sleep?! If your sinuses are starting to become affected, I prescribe Augmentin 875/125 to patients, but ask your physician ASAP. Losing 5lbs might sound dandy to you, but not at the expense of becoming dehydrated. Besides losing electrolytes in the process, the body is also trying to clear all the extra vitamin C. So drink a lot of liquids and fruit juices! Again, quality sleep is the key to recovery... The angels have been summoned. :wink:

Get Well Soon!
George

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Sun Jun 20, 2010 6:37 pm 
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Does NyQuil sleep count as 'quality' sleep? :lol: That's what I do when I'm sick. NyQuil at night; Advil Cold & Sinus in the day.

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 4:37 am 
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Hi George and Theresa -

Usually my sinuses are the first thing that get inflamed and infected when I'm sick. But this time my sinuses are fine. It's my throat that hurts. If I still have a fever when I wake up tomorrow, then I will for sure go to the doctor to get some Augmentin. And for some weird reason I cannot take over-the-counter cold medicines. If the label says "does not cause drowsiness" - then it does for me and vice-versa. And George - I agree that sleep is extremely important. I think I'll be able to sleep okay the next two nights; that will help my body fight off whatever I've got. I'm worried about Wednesday night, though. I doubt I will sleep at all and that's the night when I'll need it the most! Oh well...I'll live...

Summoning the angels - I like that. :)

p.s. does wine count as fruit juice? :lol: that's what I'm drinking right now. (really, it numbs me)

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my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 2:03 pm 
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I hope you get well soon. Nobody deserves to fall ill at such a crucial moment.

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 2:12 pm 
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techneut wrote:
Nobody deserves to fall ill at such a crucial moment.


Yes, the other competitors! :mrgreen:

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Alfonso Bertazzi, amateur pianist.


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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 6:11 pm 
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hhahaha - that's funny because I was sort of thinking that all the competitors will be sitting in the audience and mentally throwing poisoned darts at whomever is up on stage, so now we're even.

The good news is that I don't have strep throat. I went to nearby clinic this morning to get a throat culture and it turned up negative. So what I have is simply a virus that has to run its coarse. I'm just thankful that I have it now and it should be gone by Thursday (at 11:36 :lol: ). There's always a bright to side everything! :)


I do have a question to anyone who has an opinion: Do you think judges give 'extra points' if you play by memory, even if the rules say that you don't have to?

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 6:30 pm 
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pianolady wrote:
Do you think judges give 'extra points' if you play by memory, even if the rules say that you don't have to?


Hard to say! My advice is to not play any of your pieces by memory if you don't feel super safe doing so. The risk of playing worse because of (the fright of) a memory loss is much greater than the probability of winning extra points if the rules say that you won't if you perform by heart. Also, it's not time for small tactics, stay focused on giving the best of yourself instead. :D

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Alfonso Bertazzi, amateur pianist.


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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 7:49 pm 
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The judges are supposed to be listening with their eyes closed. :D Seriously, it's my understanding that at most competitions where the competitors are allowed to play with their scores, the competitors are judged on the artistic merit of their performances only and not on whether they do without the music or not. However, I don't doubt a bit of prejudice might creep in every now and then (judges are human beings, after all). I do second Alfonso - if you're still uneasy playing without the score, you'll probably be less musical and secure in your playing and would be better off using the sheet music. That's my mantra, anyway. :wink:

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Though everything else may appear shallow and repulsive, even the smallest task in music is so absorbing, and carries us so far away from town, country, earth, and all worldly things, that it is truly a blessed gift of God.

Felix Mendelssohn


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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 9:32 pm 
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I would play everything from memory, but that's because I hate scores. Once the piece is memorized (which is usually within a week or two of working on it) I hardly look at the score again, and I would find it nerve-wracking to try to perform with a score and turning pages and all. I like the freedom of being able to look at my hands and nothing else.

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 10:43 pm 
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I'm very weak at memorizing the score, since I'm lacking of that sort of training.... Thus I would have the music in front of me at all events. But do you have a page turner, Monica?
Anyway I want to suggest to decide for which piece you will use the score and for which not as soon as possible and to stick to it during every practice and rehearsal. Since also it requires extra pratice from you, to divide your concentration into seeing the score and seeing the your hands.
Good luck wishes from one of your angels :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2010 4:53 am 
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Pianolady wrote:
Quote:
Does wine count as fruit juice?
For me it does! 8)

OK, if you're not having any sinus symptoms and if the cause is not post-nasal drip, then don't take Augmentin. Penicillin or erythromycin may be better if it's bacterial. However, if it's viral, time is the only cure and only a culture can confirm which it is.

But in the meantime, honey or lemon tea is the best home remedy. Avoid sodas and caffeine - it will dehydrate you further. Warm salt water rinses are good too (1/2 tsp of salt in 1 cup water). Honey lozenges can help soothe the throat too. I hope you're starting to feel better?!

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2010 1:34 pm 
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Thanks for the advice. I have been intending to play my first-round pieces by memory. I feel they are pretty good and tight in my head right now - really I think I can play them with my eyes closed! But I'm just a little worried about what my brain will do when I'm actually sitting there in front of judges. Will my memory go out the window? I've copied my music and put in a black 3-ring binder (so it looks nice and neat) and think I will bring it to the piano but leave it sitting on the side of the piano - just in case. Except if I do have a problem, opening up the notebook and finding the page will take time and I only have 10 minutes to play and I timed myself a couple times yesterday - one time was 10 mins. 14 sec. and the other time was 9 mins 50 secs. so I you can see that I don't have time to spare! Hmmm...I may rethink this whole thing today....

Hye-Jin - they will provide a page-turner if I need one, but I already told them that I don't need one. I can do my own page-turning if necessary. I do agree with you about practicing with the music so you are used to doing so. I've learned that lesson the hard way...

George - Yes, no antibiotics since what I have is viral. But I am getting better; my throat still feels a bit like sandpaper, but it's like a 'fine grit' sandpaper now. And my arms still ache but it's the 'regular' ache/pain that I'm used to. I think by tomorrow it should be mostly all gone. And tomorrow is day of pampering - exercise class, and then to the salon where I'll get buffed, waxed, and polished all over. Oh and also a pedicure. Because of course one must have pretty toes to play the piano, right? :lol:

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my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2010 4:51 am 
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Pianolady wrote:
Quote:
Tomorrow is day of pampering - exercise class, and then to the salon where I'll get buffed, waxed, and polished all over. Oh and also a pedicure. Because of course one must have pretty toes to play the piano, right?
WOW! 8) I don't think the GT3 gets such pampering when I detail it. :lol: After tomorrow, I believe the Concours d'Elegance will be in your favor... :wink: I am glad you're feeling better as the angels have indeed been working overtime.... Bravo Monica! Shock them all with your music!!!!! :D

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2010 1:10 pm 
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hehe - well, I may not have the skills necessary to make it past the first round, but I do have some skill in spending money on myself. :lol:

I've decided to put my music up on the piano but opened to just that one page of the mazurka where I sometimes stumble. At least that's my current plan as of this morning. Tonight is the first event - a 'meet and greet' dinner. I may try to ask around to see how many other competitors are using music.

my heart rate is already up....

I hope I don't shock them by playing terribly...

actually, I've just thought of a new tactic - I'm going to disguise myself so that if I do make a total fool of myself, no one will recognize me later. Yeah - I'll have them dye my hair a different color at the salon today...

I am not nervous, I am not nervous, I am not nervous, I am not nervous....

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2010 7:36 pm 
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You will do great, I know you will! It's perfectly natural to be nervous. :D I am feeling excited for you, too. Enjoy the dinner this evening!

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Though everything else may appear shallow and repulsive, even the smallest task in music is so absorbing, and carries us so far away from town, country, earth, and all worldly things, that it is truly a blessed gift of God.

Felix Mendelssohn


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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2010 7:55 pm 
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You'll be fine, Monica. Just be glad your career is not riding on it. :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2010 4:28 am 
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I never made it to the dinner! I drove through a tornado and then was stuck on the highway for 3 1/2 hours!

OMG this was a terrible night!! I thought I was going to blow away to China or something! We had some really really bad weather come through right at the time when I left my house to drive into the city. (I went by myself) Yes, I knew that storms were approaching, but I didn't think it was going to be so bad. So it's 5:00 and I'm all dolled up and my car is all gassed up and I get onto the highway for what should have been a 45-minute ride into Chicago. About 20 minutes in, the sky is getting blacker and blacker and it's raining like crazy - traffic is crawling on the highway. Then it gets even blacker or more like greener and the radio tells me that tornadoes are practically on top of where I'm at! So now I'm scared and crying - I hear all the tornado sirens going off in the surrounding towns, and I'm calling my husband on my cell phone and he's worried sick about me -and I can't see anything except that things are flying sideways in front of my car and everybody on the highway (it's a 'big' highway - 8 lanes) has stopped. Little by little the sky starts to brighten a bit. So good, I'm moving forward again - about 20 mph. Then we stop. And stay stopped for over 3 hours. Turns out a viaduct up ahead on the highway I was on flooded and they had to shut down the highway. I was trapped, along with hundreds maybe even a thousand other cars. Finally, I ended up turning my car completely around and going the opposite way down the highway until I could get myself onto another road and then to home. So that was my nice dinner with the other contestants. :( At least there is another one on Sunday night. Probably some other contestants had similar problems like me, though. Another major highway leading into the city was also shut down because of flash-flooding.

Well, I'll try again in the morning. I have to wake up at 5:00 and be in my car by 6:00. My time to try out the piano is at 8:24. Then I'll have two hours of time to myself in a practice room before my 'real' playing time which is 11:36. I'm so wired up right now though - how am I going to sleep tonight?

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2010 7:12 am 
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Wow, that sounds awful! Sorry to hear that, even though I haven't really been participating in this thread. If you're still up now, my advice is to avoid any kind of stimulation (like a computer) and just try to relax, eventually your body will become naturally tired out. Good luck with the competition! From what I've heard from your recordings, I can tell that you play very well. I'm sure you'll do great :D


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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2010 8:11 pm 
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Oh Monica, how terrible! :shock: I am so sorry. That must have been terrifying. I hope everyone's prayers for today will go into effect and things will be much better. :wink:

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Though everything else may appear shallow and repulsive, even the smallest task in music is so absorbing, and carries us so far away from town, country, earth, and all worldly things, that it is truly a blessed gift of God.

Felix Mendelssohn


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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2010 11:04 pm 
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I'm very sorry to hear what you experienced! :o
While you were waiting for your turn today, I was cooking. I look at the watch, realized that the time is coming near, so I started to say the prayers for you! Hopefully you enjoyed your appearance on the stage! :D

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Hye-Jin Lee
"The love for music. The respect for the composer. The desire to express something that reaches and moves the listener." (Montserrat Caballé about her main motivation for becoming a singer)


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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Fri Jun 25, 2010 8:12 am 
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pianolady wrote:
I never made it to the dinner! I drove through a tornado and then was stuck on the highway for 3 1/2 hours!


Sorry to hear that, Monica. Yesterday evening, skimming through my news roundup, I came across an article about the storm (http://www.ilpost.it/2010/06/24/i-video ... a-chicago/). Those videos are scaring!

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Fri Jun 25, 2010 1:10 pm 
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Hi Everyone! I was going to write a detailed report about my time yesterday but I have no time right now. :roll: :) I'm getting ready to head back into the city to hear today's contestants play. Regarding my playing yesterday - I made a few mistakes but I got to the end of my pieces. :D I have a lot of mixed feelings, but in general I have never been more relieved in my life!!
I have so much to tell you - bunches of interesting little tidbits to report, but like I said - no time. I'm keeping notes, though, so I'll write more later.

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Fri Jun 25, 2010 5:49 pm 
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I am so thrilled for you, Monica! We knew you could do it. :D I'll look forward to the extended report later, but have fun listening to the others now!

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Though everything else may appear shallow and repulsive, even the smallest task in music is so absorbing, and carries us so far away from town, country, earth, and all worldly things, that it is truly a blessed gift of God.

Felix Mendelssohn


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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Mon Jun 28, 2010 5:44 pm 
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Hi again, Everybody.

Well, for better or for for worse, here is my report on the competition. Sorry it's kind of long, but I wanted to get most things down before I start forgetting.

So now it's Monday, the competition is over, and the first thing I will say is that I had the best time and I will definitely do it again!! I heard so much great music, made many new friends (as well as observed some 'interesting' characters :wink: :lol: ), and learned so many things that will help me next time around.

The piano was 7'6" Fazioli 228. Beautiful piano! I am so spoiled now!! It sounded and played like a dream piano - smooth, full and rich tone, keys weighted just right, the una corda pedal was especially something that was so incredible to me - the way it changed the tone of the piano but in such a subtle way. Just gorgeous - I can't say enough about how wonderful that piano is and boy do I wish I could have one! Here is a photo of me with it.


Image


And here is a funny sign outside the recital hall that I took a picture of, which shows why I probably never will have one!


Image


So anyway, the first round consisted of 60 players. As you already know, my turn to play was on Thursday at 11:36. They gave us a practice room for two hours prior to our playing time and so I practiced a little during that time, but was too antsy to stay in there for long periods. I periodically walked out and into the recital hall to listen to other competitors, but that made me even more nervous so then I'd have to just go out into the hallways and pace around for a while. Finally it got close to my time and they directed me to the green room (waiting room behind the stage), which really is green - a terribly awful color green - yuck - probably aided in making me feel nauseous. Three or four people were in there - the announcer, the recording technician, and a woman - a rather plump woman whose job was I think to make sure that contestants actually got onto the stage. In my case, as I sat in there and the announcer-man was asking me how to pronounce my name, another man was asking me if I needed a page-turner and things like that, I literally was so scared and almost ran out of the room. But that woman kept trying to calm me and giving me pep talks, and then when I heard my name being called I think she may have actually gently shoved me out the door so that I had no choice but to go forward with my turn to play. :lol:

Okay, so now I am standing there at the piano and do my little bow, and then sit down at the Fazioli. Minutes before I went on stage I arranged for the page-turner man to turn my pages. Since I saw that many other competitors were using music, I felt that it was fine. I didn't look at the music, though, except for one time when I stumbled - it was in the Chopin mazurka and funny that it wasn't in the place that I feared, but a different spot. I'm so glad I had the music up there, because I would have been pretty screwed otherwise. As to my playing in general - remember I took beta-blockers - I started off pretty well but out of the blue one hand completely forgot what it was supposed to do and stopped playing. In other words, a pretty big slip. It lasted about two or three measures. However, the other hand kept playing and then all of a sudden the 'weird' hand started up again and everything was fine again. I think it happed twice - each during different pieces. But I really think that the beta-blockers saved me, because I know how I freak out when something like this happens - both hands usually stop playing and I'd basically freeze. And also even though I had those couple of mishaps, I was actually enjoying sitting there and playing! My mind was telling me how much fun I was having, how nice that I was getting to play on such a fine instrument, how beautiful the music sounded, etc. That's never happened to me before! It really was just so surreal. When I was done and walked off the stage, that nice woman was there and gave me a big hug - like what I real mom would do. She did that with everybody.

It's weird, but now I can't even remember how I played. I know I made those two mess-ups, but I can't recall how my actual playing was, like technique and stuff like that. They recorded everything and I'm supposed to be able to get to hear it all once they finish the processing. Not sure I want to hear myself, but you know of course I really do. :wink: :lol: What's nice is the judges (five of them) all made comments on everybody and we were given those comments (except I can't read most of their handwritings). I'm going to try to decipher them later.

Some of the things I learned is that competitors can change their repertoire right at the last second - right before they go play if they want to. Several of them did that. Also, I was a little concerned that perhaps I had chosen pieces considered too easy for a competition, but other people had pieces in a similar vein; some were harder than mine, but some even easier than mine. One of my pieces was Chopin's Mazurka in A-flat op. 59, no. 2 and three other competitors also played it.

So after two days of preliminaries, the judges narrowed the field down to 12. That was very interesting and surprising - some of us felt that certain players should not have advanced and other players should have. Saturday afternoon was then the semi-finals and I sat through most of it and enjoyed listening to all the great music; most of which I knew, but some I did not. Really interesting to actually see firsthand all the different techniques utilized by so many different players!

Yesterday (Sunday) was the finals - again more surprises regarding the selection of the finalists. Sunday morning was a brunch at a nearby building where the Fazioli piano store is located, which also holds another recital hall. Competitors who did not make it into the finals were allowed to sign up to play in a sort of impromptu recital. Originally there were about ten slots available and players could play anything for about ten minutes. But turned out that about 20 people signed up to play. I signed up to play and almost regretted it later because the group at the brunch/recital were all top-players and sort of 'famous' in the world of amateur pianists. For me it was a little more nerve-wracking than playing for the judges! But I did it anyway - only played one piece - Granados' Spanish Dance no. 5. It actually went well and I received some nice comments from the others. (by the way - it was another Fazioli piano :D ) Something funny was that several of these people are really big piano hogs! You can't get them off the piano! Everywhere we went there were of course pianos and these people were practically fighting each other to sit down at the bench. Also, it amazed me that lots of them have so much repertoire in their heads - that they can just sit down and play pieces by memory whenever they have a piano at their disposal. And I'm talking 'big' pieces!

Anyway, after the brunch came the afternoon Finals concert. The five finalists played for a half-hour each. Afterwards, while the judges deliberated, the competition organizers allowed the rest of the competitors sitting in the audience to use the time (about 45 minutes) by taking turns going up to the piano and playing something. I did not raise my hand for this one. But funny again, because the same piano hogs went to the piano and wouldn't stop until somebody practically dragged them off so that another person could have a chance to play.

Regarding the outcome of the Finals - the pieces that they played were Chopin Sonata no. 3, Liszt B-minor Sonata, Boulez Sonata no. 2, Prokofiev Sonata no. 7, Haydn Sonata no. 55, and Schumann Phantasiebilder Op. 26. The best part is that a 71-year-old grandmother won first place!! Yay!!! The other finalists were nearly half her age. And Wow - the playing all around was amazing - such top-notch playing from so many people!

Afterwards we all went to a restaurant for a party. And now today - I am starting to come down from all the excitement and feel a little like I have just come home from summer camp. I enjoyed so much conversing with such interesting and talented people, and most of us said we'd all meet with each other again at the next competition. The Chicago organizers are currently debating whether to have the next competition in two or three years. Whenever it is, I will be there! I really wish very hard and hope that some of you can join me :!: :?: :!:

p.s. This is photo of me and one of my new friends taken at the party last night. His name is Abel and he was one of the finalists and came in third. He's from Spain but currently lives in Boston for at least the next year or so and then he goes back to Spain. Really a great player! He actually approached me earlier in the competition because he recognized my name from Piano Society! He said he has visited our site in the past, and I told him to come back and visit us again. He's a really nice guy!

Image


And here is a photo of some more new friends. The woman on my right was like me - first-time competitor and all that. We hung around together the entire time. The woman across from me is very, very talented, and so is the guy sitting on my left. But very nice, interesting, and fun people!

Image

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"Simplicity is the highest goal, achievable when you have overcome all difficulties." ~ Frederic Chopin

my videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/monicapiano
my personal website: http://www.monicaalianello.com


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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Mon Jun 28, 2010 9:35 pm 
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Congratulations Monica and thank you for the report. I am especially happy that the competition has been a positive experience for you. I'll comment more later.

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Alfonso Bertazzi, amateur pianist.


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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Mon Jun 28, 2010 10:21 pm 
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Thank you for sharing the wonderful pictures and report. You looked just lovely! :D I am very thrilled that you had so much fun sharing your beautiful music with others and making new friends. The heartiest of congratulations to you!

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Though everything else may appear shallow and repulsive, even the smallest task in music is so absorbing, and carries us so far away from town, country, earth, and all worldly things, that it is truly a blessed gift of God.

Felix Mendelssohn


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