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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Mon Mar 01, 2010 6:28 pm 
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hyenal wrote:
I'm afraid to lead this post to too Off-topic, but can you help me in understanding what a perfect Chopin rubato is? (Sorry for my ignorance again :oops: )

lol, just that the tempo remains steady in the accompaniment hand - maybe not metronomic, but with a strong enough pulse to at least sound metronomic to the casual listener - while the melodic hand is free from the accompaniment hand, weaving in and out. Perhaps both hands will weave in an out a bit, but the time that is borrowed must always be returned. GG's melodic hand was not all that free - I have heard more convincing Chopin rubato, that's for sure - but he kept the tempo under control, which is something that is lacking in most pianists' recordings of Chopin (Ashkenazy comes to mind....I have his complete Chopin). It is much easier for us to add ritardandos and accelerandos where there are none, than it is for us to keep the tempo and the precise rhythm in one hand, but not in the other. :lol: I find that the structure of the piece weakens when the rubato is too free. Melodies become garbled statements, and syncopation becomes meaningless.

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Mon Mar 01, 2010 11:56 pm 
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Thank you Terez. I had read that thing somewhere, but I never considered it as so important... Maybe cause most pianists observe that not so strictly. At the first sight, it sounds a bit strange that you must obey a strict rule in interpreting music, but as you wrote, it is important.

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 12:04 am 
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I think that most pianists do not observe it strictly because it is extremely difficult. Not so difficult to play in tempo....but difficult to be expressive while playing in tempo. Even after playing so much Bach, so that our hands are independent of each other, it is extremely counterintuitive to most of us to let one hand be free of the other in this sense, especially in certain types of music, like the more lyrical pieces and episodes of Chopin. So we do what is easier: we are expressive via the unwritten ritardando and accelerando - this 'all over the place' rubato that is common in most Chopin interpretations (including mine, much to my disappointment).

So, since it is difficult, I think for many years, professional pianists have justified this non-Chopin type of rubato in Chopin by saying that to play Chopin in strict tempo must be mechanical, and non-musical. But I don't believe that is the case.

Sorry for going OT, Monica...especially seeing as how I think we have argued about this before. :lol: I will add my voice to those who think you should play what you are most comfortable with, at the competition. As Alfie says, it's a no-brainer.

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 12:20 am 
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Monica, thank you for sharing your planning of pieces! I think the combination of Mozart, Chopin and Mompou is good. I know how you play Ch and M. You love them and play well. But which mov. of Mozart are you going to play? The first mov. from K570 which you recently recorded? Or the third? I personally would really agonize over choosing just one sonata movement for a recital program. Cause I'm a bit obsessed by the puristic thought that a sonata schould be played in a whole and based on this it would be difficult for me to find a movement which could harmonize with other pieces. But I know well this is a competition with time limit and the jury allows to play only a movement from a sonata. Besides, playing a Mozart for a competition would be never easy, since a small mistake or uneven runs would be too apparent. Just a personal thinking from an unexperienced one :roll: :roll:
BTW your Barcarolle was good...

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 9:22 am 
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Monica, the last post of me came to my mind as I awakened this morning and found my concerns against selecting just one Mozart movement totally useless and rather confusing. So never mind it :oops:
However I wanted add one thing that is hopefully useful. When you play a technically tricky piece before the audience, you schould plan another short and easy piece before that one: This was what I learned from my performance of that Bach-Rach transcription. Actually I made the most terrible performance ever on that day. As I warmed up on the instrument before it, everything seemed to work well. But during a not that long break until the real performance I was frozen from the cold and the nervousness. So the result was horrible. It turned out that my RH can alway work also in the emotional stir, but my LH not. After it I thought if I played another comfortable piece directly before that piece, I could more relax myself and recover myself not only technically but also musically.
So if you play the Barcarolle (which I suppose very hard) in any round, check if you can play that in any circumstances comfortably.

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 9:39 am 
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hyenal wrote:
Monica, the last post of me came to my mind as I awakened this morning and found my concerns against selecting just one Mozart movement totally useless and rather confusing. So never mind it :oops:

I was going to say...I dunno if 'purist' is even the right way to go about describing that need to play a whole multi-movement piece. Even in Chopin's time, it was still common to play other things between movements of a multi-movement piece, for variety. I have been thinking about that a lot lately, because of the way the Bach organ passacaglia was written. The fugue was obviously not written to be played right after the passacaglia, because the ending of the passacaglia is so awesome as to make one wonder why he wrote anything after it. But when you take into consideration that the fugue was not intended to be played right then - made obvious by the way the opening pickup note of the fugue overlaps awkwardly with the final chord of the passacaglia - it all makes sense. Bach probably played the passacaglia to open the church service, putting the fear of God into everyone as they settled down for worship. Bach, of course, achieves that magnificently. The fugue might have been played at some other time during the service, but it makes the most sense to me as something to play as the service ends. Maybe because the ending of that one speaks to me, saying 'church is over now!' :lol:

I will probably never try to play anything as hard as the Barcarolle for anything like this. :cry: I do love it though....

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 3:19 pm 
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On the competition guidelines, it states that they like to see a variety of styles and composers on competitors chosen list of repertoire. And with the first round being only ten minutes, I could only squeeze in the one Mozart sonata movement.

@Hye-Jin, that is a very good tip about playing something easy for the first piece so that you feel a bit more relaxed for the next pieces. I've had similar problems like you did - seems that if I play a piece very well, then the next time it goes very badly and vice versa. Therefore, when I am practicing/warming up before performing, I try to end that warming up time when I've played my piece badly. That means that the next time should go well. Probably some weird psychological thing...

@Terez - I tried playing through the Barcarolle again yesterday and man....it would take so much work for me to get it back in shape again. I'm afraid of hurting my wrists. But I still love it too....

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 5:21 pm 
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Well, I just a moment ago played through Chopin's Bolero. I forgot I even had it - found it just now under a pile of books. And you know, I like this piece! It's fairly long but not nearly as difficult as the Barcarolle. I wish I would have thought of this before - I may work on it now and see if I can get it into somewhat decent shape. Do you guys know this piece and what do you think of it?

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Wed Mar 03, 2010 9:29 pm 
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I didn't know that piece, so I listened to Ashkenazy's rendition on YT (Rubinstein's playing is not available in Germany again :evil: ). I think the piece suits to you very well and just from listening it sounded not so easy to play. Anyway Good luck with that Bolero, Monica!
(BTW does it belong to pieces of Chopin which are hardly played? I have listened to many Chopin CDs so far but had never found it.)

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Wed Mar 03, 2010 11:57 pm 
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All of the Chopin 'miscellaneous' pieces suffer from neglect, with the exception of the barcarolle and the berceuse. Probably because we tend to buy Chopin by genre - nocturnes, etudes, preludes, mazurkas, polonaises, scherzos, ballades, waltzes, polonaises, sonatas, impromptus. The vast majority of Chopin's solo music is in one of those categories. I think the Barcarolle stands out because it's truly one of his best works, and the berceuse maybe because of its uniqueness (can't think of another piece that varies on such a brief chaconne).

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Last edited by Terez on Fri Mar 05, 2010 7:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Fri Mar 05, 2010 12:00 am 
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Terez wrote:
All of the Chopin 'miscellaneous' pieces suffer from neglect, with the exception of the barcarolle and the berceuse. Probably because we tend to buy Chopin by genre - nocturnes, etudes, preludes, scherzos, ballades, waltzes, polonaises, sonatas, impromptus. The vast majority of Chopin's solo music is in one of those categories. I think the Barcarolle stands out because it's truly one of his best works, and the berceuse maybe because of its uniqueness (can't think of another piece that varies on such a brief chaconne).


Don't forget the Fantasia Op.49. All three are unique masterpieces in their genre (the Fantasia is all but a Fantasy, I actually couldn't find more solidly organized music than that).

Monica, I don't believe it's really important what you play, I mean, the Bolero is a known piece but seldom performed in concert (this is probably a plus in a competition, since you won't bore public and jury with the umpteenth Polonaise héroïque), if you like playing it and play it well, then do not think twice about that and put the Bolero in your program. My only suggestion about the competition is: choose pieces you have already learnt in the past and be sure to have enough time to polish them up focusing on the fine details. Plan your schedule carefully.

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Fri Mar 05, 2010 4:53 am 
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I love the Fantasy! Too hard for me, though. But I may give the Bolero a shot - I'm practicing it now. If I can get it down soon, I'll change my program.

So...thanks to all of you here who have helped me and discussed some ideas. Guess there is nothing more to say now until I learn whether or not I am in the competition.

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Fri Mar 05, 2010 7:51 am 
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alf wrote:
Don't forget the Fantasia Op.49.

And I had to edit my post because I forgot the mazurkas and polonaises. :lol: I don't hear the Fantasy played nearly as often as the Barcarolle and Berceuse, and usually on 'favorite Chopin' albums, the selection of the Berceuse is most common. But I did have the Fantasy as one of four required listening pieces in my keyboard lit class.

Also, at the Ann Schein concert the other night, she played the polonaise-fantasy, along with the b minor sonata and Schumann's Davidsbündlertanze. I think that's the first time I've ever seen the polonaise-fantasy performed. My friend David just did the b minor sonata, and much better than Schein did, I think. I hear Schein wrote a letter to our university president about the unsatisfactory Steinway she was forced to play on...

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Fri Mar 05, 2010 8:52 am 
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Terez wrote:
Also, at the Ann Schein concert the other night, she played the polonaise-fantasy, along with the b minor sonata and Schumann's Davidsbündlertanze. I think that's the first time I've ever seen the polonaise-fantasy performed. My friend David just did the b minor sonata, and much better than Schein did, I think. I hear Schein wrote a letter to our university president about the unsatisfactory Steinway she was forced to play on...


Is he the same David whose 'Precipitato' from the Prokofiev's 7th Sonata you sent me months ago?

Never heard of Ann Schein before. Your University president should remind her that Brahms had once to transpose at first sight a whole violin sonata by Beethoven from C major to C# major because the old piano provided was so miserable that couldn't hold the diapason and Reményi had in turn refused to tune his instrument half tone lower.

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:33 am 
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alf wrote:
Terez wrote:
Also, at the Ann Schein concert the other night, she played the polonaise-fantasy, along with the b minor sonata and Schumann's Davidsbündlertanze. I think that's the first time I've ever seen the polonaise-fantasy performed. My friend David just did the b minor sonata, and much better than Schein did, I think.

Is he the same David whose 'Precipitato' from the Prokofiev's 7th Sonata you sent me months ago?

Yes, and he would probably kill me if he knew I'd shared that with anyone. :lol:

Oh, and you reminded me of another thing about Schein....I heard about all this from our piano technician at my lesson yesterday (he chose that time to stop by and gossip with my piano teacher). She felt like the piano was 'flat', and asked him to tune the entire thing up a bit. So he tuned it to 441 for her, and two days later, they tried to have a clarinet concert with that piano, and the guest artist canceled one of his planned pieces because he couldn't tune with the piano properly. :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Sat Mar 06, 2010 5:56 pm 
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alf wrote:
Don't forget the Fantasia Op.49. All three are unique masterpieces in their genre (the Fantasia is all but a Fantasy, I actually couldn't find more solidly organized music than that).

Thanks Alf for mentioning the Fantasia. I didn't know that piece and after listening renditions of great pianists from the old generation on YT I must say I love that piece!

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2010 9:11 pm 
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Location: Obamanation, unfortunately...
Just play Tausig's nocturne and you should get 1st place! :lol: :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 4:22 am 
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juufa72 wrote:
Just play Tausig's nocturne and you should get 1st place! :lol: :wink:


I'm too afraid to look that one up....

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2010 3:41 pm 
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Well, the deadline for applying in the competition and come and passed. It is now the 6th of April and I still have not heard anything about whether I am in the competition or not. I'm thinking this is not a good sign. :(

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2010 6:26 pm 
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I just took a gander at the Cliburn website and at the very bottom of the Amateur Competition page it states that "applicants will be notified by April 1, 2011." (http://www.cliburn.org/index.php?page=amateur_competition) Good grief, does it take that long for them to figure that out?

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2010 11:49 pm 
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hmmm...it doesn't say anything like that in this competition. Wish it did so I'd know something. I've been practicing but I would step it up several notches if I knew that I'm in. At the same time, what a bunch of wasted time I've spent practicing some of my 'old' pieces, when I could have been learning 'new' pieces.

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2010 4:21 am 
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Okay, take me to an insane asylum! Anybody got recommendations? :lol:

For some reason I got your competition confused with someone else's (which was the Amateur Cliburn), and now I realize that the Cliburn deadline does not apply at all to your situation. :oops: Sorry for my utter airheadedness.

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2010 2:44 pm 
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That's okay, Sarah. I thought you showed me that so I would see how long it can take before an applicant receives word. In that Cliburn contestant, it says a month. I really hope I don't have to wait that long. I've already waited over a month since I sent in the application.

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Wed Apr 07, 2010 4:58 pm 
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I very much hope that you can know soon... waiting must be agony. I guess a painful wait is an evil of bureaucracy?

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Thu Apr 08, 2010 3:37 am 
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Thank you, Sarah. It is hard. I'll probably just blog about it right here, as my family is tired of me.

So, day #7 is now done - nothing in my mailbox. "Oh yes, wait a minute Mr. postman..." (that's me singing)

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Sat Apr 10, 2010 11:20 pm 
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Day #10. Mailman has come and gone - still no word. I really think that I didn't make it in; I went to their website just now and they have a new thing on it where competitors can log on with a special password. I never got a password.... :(

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2010 2:21 am 
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:cry: I am so sorry. They should at least be polite enough to tell you whether you're in or not! To not inform an applicant of their status is rather rude, according to my book. I wonder if there's any way you can contact them...

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2010 8:51 am 
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"Contestants will be notified by April 15th, 2010 detailing the results of their application. Accepted applicants will be sent a Welcome Package with more information by May 1st, 2010."

(from here: http://chicagopianocompetition.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/Application-Form-with-housing-FINAL.pdf)

I'm afraid you might need to wait to 4 more days.

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2010 1:32 pm 
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OMG :shock: :shock: ! I never saw that before! Pretty sure it was not even there!!! :shock: :shock:
Thank you Alfonso. I am soooo relieved - for today, anyway.

So four more days - that's Thursday - oh boy - that feeling of relief just flew out the window...

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2010 7:35 pm 
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All the notifications of this topic were in my spam box, so I didn't read the latest new until now.
I was happy to read that you are a bit relieved Monica. Four days are not so long, if you more concentrate yourself in practicing :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Mon Apr 12, 2010 1:54 pm 
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hyenal wrote:
Four days are not so long, if you more concentrate yourself in practicing :wink:


That's my problem these days - I can't concentrate...

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 3:17 am 
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well....guess I don't have to wait four more days. I just opened my email and there was the notification.

I'm in!!! :D :D :D


(eek! - I've never done anything like this before... :shock: )

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 6:43 am 
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pianolady wrote:
well....guess I don't have to wait four more days. I just opened my email and there was the notification.

I'm in!!! :D :D :D


(eek! - I've never done anything like this before... :shock: )


Good, now go study! :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 7:13 am 
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It's a kind of matter of course, when you were not in, who would be in? :D
Have much fun at preparing!!

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 2:13 pm 
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alf wrote:
Good, now go study! :lol:


Ok! :lol:


hyenal wrote:
Have much fun at preparing!!


Ok! :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 6:24 pm 
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pianolady wrote:
well....guess I don't have to wait four more days. I just opened my email and there was the notification.

I'm in!!! :D :D :D


(eek! - I've never done anything like this before... :shock: )


Congratulations! :D I'm so very happy for you. I thought you'd make it... the judges know good when they see it :wink:

May you have many merry hours of practicing! (But not too many! As I recently learned, do not overpractice and get a hand or arm injury. Take lots of breaks and don't get tense. :wink: ).

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 7:28 pm 
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Thank you, Sarah. You've been cheering for me for awhile now, and I very much appreciate what you and everybody else has said a lot!

Good advice - I'll try to be careful, although I already have problems with pain so...well....at least I have a big bottle of ibuprofen at the ready! :)

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Tue Apr 13, 2010 8:56 pm 
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Hi Monica,

I just wanted to say congrats to you ! I'm so glad all your hard work has turned out to be profitable.
Even if rarely post on the forum, I often come here to catch up with your news... so I'll wait for next episode now :-)
Good luck for the second part !

Henri

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Wed Apr 14, 2010 1:05 am 
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Hi Henri, and thank you!

The next episode will be the hard part (all the practicing) - or maybe actually the episode after that (the competition) will the hardest. I dunno - I'm thinking that I'll be in a daze by then....

btw - I'm wondering if any members have every tried beta-blockers? A friend of mine is trying to convince me to try them. She says that taking beta-blockers among performers/musicians is more common than you think. Anyone have an opinion about this?

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Wed Apr 14, 2010 8:22 pm 
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Monica, I had to google to know what is the beta blocker...
It's medication, thus has side effects, too, right? I wouldn't take it. I believe the self-trust is more important. :|

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Thu Apr 15, 2010 3:13 am 
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Actually, the literature says there are no side effects, plus they are non-addicting. From what I've read, beta blockers sound very tempting. Performance anxiety (stage fright) always, always, always gets the best of me! and if I can get a handle on it this one time, I would be happy. But we'll see - I'm going to talk to my doctor about it soon.

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Thu Apr 15, 2010 3:53 am 
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While I haven't used beta-blockers myself (yet... :wink:) and so cannot vouch for side effects or positive improvement from using them, I do think they may be a good alternative for those who have bad stage fright. I was recently reading a book (Gerald Klickstein's Musician's Way - he has some articles on the topic here http://musiciansway.com/performance.shtml#Stress ) and the author was quite positive about using them, especially in high-stress situations (and competitions certainly count as that! :wink: ).

To avoid any suprises, I'd just try them out by using them several times while playing for family and friends; you can record the performances and critique them later so that you can know exactly how beta-blockers affect you personally.

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Thu Apr 15, 2010 1:05 pm 
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Thanks for that information, Sarah. Also good idea about trying them out beforehand. If I go ahead with taking bb's, I'll post the results here.

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2010 5:14 am 
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Congratulations Monica! You are now at the start line of this marathon run!

I thought I'd share some relevant thoughts, without getting into pharmacology, on the topic of beta-blockers since a few musicians are already curious...

Never take beta-blockers without consulting a physician. If you're intent on using them, you have to experiment with the dosage in different situations under medical supervision, way before any performance. These medications, such as propanolol (inderal), block the adrenaline (epinephrine) receptors that cause the "fight-or-flight" response. Blocking beta receptors can cause lower heart rate, decreased force of heart contractions, bronchial constriction, uterine contractions, decrease blood pressure, decrease in tremor, and relieve migraines. If a patient has asthma, diabetes, Raynaud's Phenomena, or congestive heart failure, beta-blockers should NOT be prescribed.

The side effects are minimal when used in lower doses, but may include dry mouth, low heart rate and blood pressure, rash, cold extremities, fainting, lethargy, etc. Beta-blockers don't inhibit cognitive abilities. They don't improve your muscle timing. A musician's response may vary due to dose and/or efficacy. Peak response occurs in 1-1.5hrs, so you need to time it just right.

I've never took them or needed them myself. However, there are other options if you don't want to take medications.

A Non-Medication Approach: Redirect your anxiety in convincing yourself that you have a story to tell. Use your talent, technique, and understanding of the music to conquer the judges and audience. Identify your anxiety symptoms - sweaty palms, racing heart, shallow/rapid breathing, forgetfulness, upset stomach, etc.? For example, if you have rapid breathing or heart rate, learning relaxation techniques prior to a performance will help. Or if you have nausea or other stomach problems, taking a simple pill to calm your GI might help. Positive thoughts and reminding yourself of your strengths can reduce negative thoughts as well.

Good Luck! :D

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2010 12:46 pm 
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Thank you, George, and thanks for the information. I'm not totally decided whether I'll try the bb's or not. But those other options you suggest don't work for me that well. I've tried!

I just want so badly to be able to play/perform as well as I can as like when I'm in my own living room. I'm very frustrated at the whole thing, so that's why I'm considering options. I have an appointment to see my doctor this coming Tuesday.

But I'm also wondering if you (or anyone else here) has ever been hypnotized? I have not and it actually that scares me more than the drugs. But at least it's natural, sort of...

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Fri Apr 16, 2010 7:39 pm 
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pianolady wrote:
I just want so badly to be able to play/perform as well as I can as like when I'm in my own living room.

Monica, I'm afraid no one among us amatures is able to be so. Everybody has more or less stage fright...
Anyway I hope your doctor will help you!

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Sat Apr 17, 2010 1:28 am 
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Hi Monica, I thought you were intent on bb so I didn't go into any detail with other options that are available. However, I am not sure that you'll benefit from a quick remedy with the alternative methods as they require more time and practice to implement. Yes, hypnosis can work, but I'd rather go up on stage than to go through that.

Remember you're not alone up there as everybody will have stage fright. Amateur or professional, there is always stage fright. Sure, if you've been playing in recitals on a regular basis, it will make the entire experience much easier. My teacher used to say that you lose 30% of your entire performance right off the top because of the stage, wrong notes, etc. I had slips in my rounds, it wasn't perfect. You can't play 100%, no one can, and you won't have to be at 100% even to win. Anxiety will always coexist on stage. It's not anxiety that you're combating, it's fear itself. Allow the love of the music to be more powerful than the fear itself. You'll learn to affect a change in attitude as you overcome fear with a greater force, that being the power of music. Think of yourself as a messenger on stage, communicate that message effectively.

If you have a choice, inquire to play first on the program. Worse than stage fright is having to listen to all the other pianists while waiting for your turn. That's what happened to me. Out of 6 finalists, I had to go on last - Zoinks!

Perhaps good news: In your case, you might actually play first if they're going in alphabetical order... Yay! :D (Applause!) :D

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Sat Apr 17, 2010 4:39 am 
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Oh, George - I wish there was a way for you to come with me and say all these things to me right before I have to play. And I am not going first - the schedule is not alphabetical. I am to play on the first day - the 9th player - 11:36 in the morning to be exact. And I just noticed something - there were only supposed to be 50 competitors, but there are 61 scheduled. Oh well....

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 1:46 am 
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Monica, I am going to tell you to face fear with a smile. :D That is the first step. It's a good start to disperse negative energy that can build up. The second step is to remove the word "competition" from your vocabulary. It brings excess stress that you don't need. "Tournament" might impose a more sedate psychological state. Now you can proceed... If I was anywhere near Chicago, I'd meet up with you to give you all the confidence and advice.

Practice the most difficult passages in your pieces separately. If you are prepared, the fingering is secure, there is no need to become worried, frustrated, or panic at any point. Once you have mastered the pieces, you have to part with the living room mentality, and devise ways to accept the stage as your new path. Fall upon your experiences in recitals. I don't need to remind you (maybe I should) about your prodigious output of recordings. Every time you see that red record light, you know what it's like - the spotlight is on you. You've done it so many times that you are already conditioned to deal with such situations... Perhaps more than you think.

Remember some of the things I said earlier in the thread. In addition to the common relaxation techniques, try yawning followed by deep breaths to give you more oxygen and energy before your turn; make sure your fingers are warm; take your time on stage to make sure of your bench height, distance, pedals, any debris/moisture on keyboard; carry a handkerchief with you; and wear comfortable clothes (not too warm/cold) and shoes (I hope you found them:). Oftentimes we play faster tempos on stage, and can get into trouble fast. I've done this. Therefore, it's important that you have the tempo in your head before your hands are on the keyboard. The last day should be spent sleeping, no practicing, because you'll only second guess yourself.

Everyone handles stress and anxiety a little differently. Convince yourself that you will perform better under pressure and stress. I encourage you to embrace whatever comes your way and conquer it. You'll soon realize that the anxiety will be there, but will not pose a larger threat to your performance. Even if it's not in your temperament, your frame of mind has to remain calm, collective, and rational at all times until you play the last chord on stage. Tune out what the others are playing, please! Focus on your message, your music!

Make the process fun... And remember the importance of starting your routine with a smile... :D

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 Post subject: Re: piano competition
PostPosted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 2:50 pm 
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This is all great advice, George. And I've told these things to many other people many times, but it's different and a little strange to hear it directed towards me! I think I'm going to make a list with your and everybody else's words of advice and keep it near my piano.

I have to say something now, though - and I hope you don't take it badly because I so much appreciate your (and all other members) time spent in trying to encourage me - but I have to stop thinking like how I've been thinking lately. Actually, when I first became aware of this competition, I had a different mindset. I saw the competition simply as something fun to experience - I'd be among other people similar to myself, get an insider's look at how competitions are run, and learn about and hear lots of piano music.

But then in a short period of time, I began to think that, ok I'm actually a competitor and thus have to push myself to practice more and more, and who am I competing against, etc.... Then yesterday I looked at the list of competitors and randomly chose some names and searched for them online. I found some of them on Youtube and turns out that at least one of them was a winner in another amateur competition and another one was a finalist in yet another competition and they are both very good players and play harder stuff than I do, and well....it made me think that the people running 'my' competition must have needed someone on the lower end of the scale (like me) so they can have an easy time eliminating contestants in the first round. I may be a big dreamer, but I'm also practical-minded and know that I don't have a chance in hell in making it passed the first round - not with all these other competitors who are much better players.

All this has brought me back to my original train of thought, which is, and like you have said, to think more in terms of simply enjoying myself and being happy to be in the competition in the first place. That's all. So, from now on I will try to stop bemoaning how scared and nervous I am and all that, and just try to stay focused on getting my music prepared to the best of my ability. Also, there really is something more important that I must think about: What should I wear? :lol:

One more thing - If I start getting all weird again - thinking like an actual competitor - please and I mean Please! tell me to knock it off - that I am supposed to be having fun with this, which is exactly what you and the others have said and of which I totally agree (but I still may need reminding...er...did that make sense?...you know what I mean, I hope...sorry this got so long).

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