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Klarinet Archive - Posting 001249.txt from 1999/04

From: "Gary L. Smith" <>
Subj: Re: [kl] Performance Preparation
Date: Fri, 30 Apr 1999 22:45:02 -0400

At 05:24 PM 4/30/99 -0700, you wrote:
>Fellow Clarinetters,
>I'd like to start a discussion regarding preparation for performance.

No, no, no. What kind of reeds do you use? Make some sort of assertion
about your sense of pitch. Go ahead... :-)

>My question is this -- Does my experience with these two groups, one a
>woodwind group, the other a string group, match the experiences of other
>members of this list?

Yes, but not because of the type of instruments. You've just experienced
two different approaches to getting a program together, and in different
contexts, both may work.

When I needed to get a WW quintet together for a wedding reception
recently, I hired four other musicians who I believed to be good readers,
and we had a couple of rehearsals. I couldn't very well ask them to meet
weekly for three months to make $100 each. We worked through a well-known
quintet book, and yes, we were happy with something if it hung together. If
it looked too difficult upon reading it, we agreed not to play it in the
performance. Sure, we worked on dynamics and discussed tempos, but we
didn't polish nuances for relatively easy music that we were going to play
as backgrounds.

On the other hand, I'm beginning work with a pianist with whom I hope to do
a recital this fall. We *will* meet weekly and work on our program. When we
get on stage, our audience will be mostly musicians, and they will be
listening critically, not talking and stuffing cocktail weinies in their
mouths (I hope). We're doing this one to make art, not money (even though
there may be some compensation involved), and we will work *very* hard on

And then there's the fact that some musicians are lazy and/or incompetent
:-) I wasn't sure from your message what the purpose of the preparation
was, but I'm assuming both groups were preparing for a competition and/or
recital situation if they were spending that much time on it. If I had
three months and a weekly rehearsal schedule, I might only want an hour a
week for only one piece, but that hour would certainly be occupied with a
more intense concern for details than what you described in your WW 5tet.
Taking the other hour for other materials is not a bad thing per se; it's
possible to get so focused on one piece or one set of pieces that you
forget to practice other things. Then, when the performance is over, you
find you don't have anything else that you can play well, which
demoralizing if you hope to continue working as an ensemble. But even then,
you don't get very far just rambling around through a bunch of music.

Also, equally competent musicians take different approaches to polishing a
piece. Some may prefer to take smaller sections and polish them one at a
time, while others (like me) prefer to take a few runs through the music
early in the game before buckling down and attacking problems. I have a
pretty good recorder in my brain (I guess all musicians must), and I like
to get the piano or ensemble part established in my head so that when I
practice alone I can think about what my part has to fit with. That's one
advantage to seemingly casual rehearsal run-throughs in the beginning.
Another thing along that line is that you can spend so much time working up
music in sections that you run out of time to stitch it back together and
make it an organic whole in performance.


Gary Smith

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