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#1678819 - 05/16/11 03:42 PM Facial Expressions While Playing.
Batuhan Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/21/09
Posts: 875
Loc: Istanbul
I wonder how many people here making facial expressions while playing ? I think making weird expressions providing deep communication with the audience. I cant suppress my feelings, expressions comes naturally and i think audience finds it interesting they give more attention to your music cause even non classical listeners trying to understand the piece with following your face. I dont know whats your opinions ?
_________________________
Sorry for my English, I know it sucks, but I'm trying to improve.

Published:
Waltz Op. 36 No. 1 in G-flat major,
2 Preludes, Op. 12 in D-flat major.

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#1678831 - 05/16/11 04:03 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
fledgehog Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/09/11
Posts: 273
Loc: West Hartford, CT
i do, and it's all subconscious. but it's all really general stuff, like my eyebrow going up on a really high note, or that "holy [censored] i'm pounding this chord REALLY hard" grimace. there's no reason to suppress facial movment, unless you're lang lang. if you can keep your face completely motionless like horowitz, good for you...that doesn't exactly represent the majority of piano players though.

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#1678843 - 05/16/11 04:26 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
cardguy Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/17/08
Posts: 977
I really hate it. Just find it a big fat turn-off.

I suppose mostly because I don't buy it. It's hard for me to believe that Yundi Li, just to pick someone out of the air, is really in a state of utter ecstasy while playing Chopin's 9/2 for what must be the 800,000th time...

I guess I'm just a cynic

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#1678844 - 05/16/11 04:28 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: fledgehog]
Batuhan Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/21/09
Posts: 875
Loc: Istanbul
Originally Posted By: fledgehog
i do, and it's all subconscious. but it's all really general stuff, like my eyebrow going up on a really high note, or that "holy [censored] i'm pounding this chord REALLY hard" grimace. there's no reason to suppress facial movment, unless you're lang lang. if you can keep your face completely motionless like horowitz, good for you...that doesn't exactly represent the majority of piano players though.


Whats wrong with lang lang ? He really feels the music but yes his playing is so ligneous for Chopin. He shouldnt play Chopin. Also i noticed shy peoples always hiding their feelings. And i think horowitz in that category. I like Bozhanov's expressions they are so natural.
_________________________
Sorry for my English, I know it sucks, but I'm trying to improve.

Published:
Waltz Op. 36 No. 1 in G-flat major,
2 Preludes, Op. 12 in D-flat major.

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#1678852 - 05/16/11 04:36 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
beet31425 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3718
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Originally Posted By: Batuhan
[Lang Lang's] playing is so ligneous for Chopin...


Bathuan, English might not be your native language (as your signature says), but your vocabulary (probably influenced by non-English languages) is delightful. smile

-J
_________________________
Beethoven: op.109, 110, 111

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#1678854 - 05/16/11 04:40 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: beet31425]
Batuhan Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/21/09
Posts: 875
Loc: Istanbul
Originally Posted By: beet31425
Originally Posted By: Batuhan
[Lang Lang's] playing is so ligneous for Chopin...


Bathuan, English might not be your native language (as your signature says), but your vocabulary (probably influenced by non-English languages) is delightful. smile

-J


Yeah we use ligneous very much as idiom sometimes its really hard to express my feelings with english. But im trying to improve my english everyday.


Edited by Batuhan (05/16/11 04:40 PM)
_________________________
Sorry for my English, I know it sucks, but I'm trying to improve.

Published:
Waltz Op. 36 No. 1 in G-flat major,
2 Preludes, Op. 12 in D-flat major.

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#1678885 - 05/16/11 05:33 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
Dave Horne Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5276
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
I tend to prepare my music for the visually impaired though not for the musically impaired.
_________________________
website

mp3\wav files

AvantGrand N3, CP5

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#1678901 - 05/16/11 06:06 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
stores Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/28/09
Posts: 6646
Loc: Here, as opposed to there
Originally Posted By: Batuhan


Whats wrong with lang lang ?


He (still) sucks is what's wrong with him. Just wanted to clarify.
_________________________

"And if we look at the works of J.S. Bach — a benevolent god to which all musicians should offer a prayer to defend themselves against mediocrity... -Debussy

"It's ok if you disagree with me. I can't force you to be right."

♪ ≠ $


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#1678917 - 05/16/11 06:33 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
PaulaPiano34 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/16/10
Posts: 1217
I don't use facial expressions when I play but I've been told I "move" too much.

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#1678920 - 05/16/11 06:37 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: stores]
Dave Horne Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/04
Posts: 5276
Loc: Vught, The Netherlands
Originally Posted By: stores
Originally Posted By: Batuhan


Whats wrong with lang lang ?


He (still) sucks is what's wrong with him. Just wanted to clarify.


He speaks highly of you. Go figure.
_________________________
website

mp3\wav files

AvantGrand N3, CP5

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#1678925 - 05/16/11 06:47 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
carey Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6219
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: Batuhan
I wonder how many people here making facial expressions while playing ? I think making weird expressions providing deep communication with the audience. I cant suppress my feelings, expressions comes naturally and i think audience finds it interesting they give more attention to your music cause even non classical listeners trying to understand the piece with following your face. I dont know whats your opinions ?


You can be a clown - or you can be a musician. Take your pick.
_________________________
YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/pianophilo

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#1678928 - 05/16/11 06:50 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
boo1234 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/06/09
Posts: 504
Originally Posted By: Batuhan
I wonder how many people here making facial expressions while playing ? I think making weird expressions providing deep communication with the audience. I cant suppress my feelings, expressions comes naturally and i think audience finds it interesting they give more attention to your music cause even non classical listeners trying to understand the piece with following your face. I dont know whats your opinions ?


I think it's just ridiculous when people go over the top with all the weird faces and body contortions. IMO, if anything, it detracts from the music since you're watching what kind of stupid faces the performer is making and probably laughing quietly at the same time.

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#1678933 - 05/16/11 07:00 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6070
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
I don't think I make facial expressions beyond closing my eyes, but I do move my body or head some. I don't "try" to do anything with my motions, though.

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#1678935 - 05/16/11 07:01 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: boo1234]
pianoman76 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/07/10
Posts: 15
Originally Posted By: carey
Originally Posted By: Batuhan
I wonder how many people here making facial expressions while playing ? I think making weird expressions providing deep communication with the audience. I cant suppress my feelings, expressions comes naturally and i think audience finds it interesting they give more attention to your music cause even non classical listeners trying to understand the piece with following your face. I dont know whats your opinions ?

You can be a clown - or you can be a musician. Take your pick.

A musician's worth is based on the music they create. You could close your eyes if you find their movements/expressions distracting. The music will sound the same either way, you're only changing what you choose to focus on.

Originally Posted By: boo1234
I think it's just ridiculous when people go over the top with all the weird faces and body contortions. IMO, if anything, it detracts from the music since you're watching what kind of stupid faces the performer is making and probably laughing quietly at the same time.

Let's say a musician's facial expressions and body contortions *do* seem over the top, but it's all really subconscious for them. Do you (and others here) think they should go out of their way to break themselves of the habit?

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#1678941 - 05/16/11 07:15 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: boo1234]
fledgehog Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/09/11
Posts: 273
Loc: West Hartford, CT
Originally Posted By: boo1234
Originally Posted By: Batuhan
I wonder how many people here making facial expressions while playing ? I think making weird expressions providing deep communication with the audience. I cant suppress my feelings, expressions comes naturally and i think audience finds it interesting they give more attention to your music cause even non classical listeners trying to understand the piece with following your face. I dont know whats your opinions ?


I think it's just ridiculous when people go over the top with all the weird faces and body contortions. IMO, if anything, it detracts from the music since you're watching what kind of stupid faces the performer is making and probably laughing quietly at the same time.


that's an incredibly judgmental point of view. While i will agree that facial and bodily movements are not NECESSARY for good musicality, it's not like [most] people are deliberately being as blatant about it as they can just for the sake of showmanship. The other day I was watching Andre Watts playing the Liszt sonata in B minor on Youtube, and it looked like he spent 30 minutes having a heart attack, an orgasm, and un-anesthetized dental surgery all at the same time, but that didn't keep it from being one of the most electrifying and musically stimulating performances of the piece i've ever seen. I wasn't sitting there thinking "oh wow, that sounds cool but roflcopter i can't take it seriously with that face".

Now, allow me to clarify what may be perceived as hypocrisy by some. I criticize Lang Lang's ridiculous gestures because he IS doing what you mention and clowning around at the keyboard. I forget what piece or performance it was (but for some reason i want to say either Liszt Liebestraum or Chopin 27/2), but I was watching his performance and on some really sweet note that he applied a disgusting amount of rubato/ritard to, he turned to the audience and gave them this coy look like "awww yeah!" with that dumb goofball smile of his. THAT's unnecessary and causes me to lose some respect for the performer.

EDIT: oh, and i've definitely seen him deliberately look at the camera before. it works when you're Jim Halpert from The Office, but doesn't fly when you're a (supposed) world-class concert pianist.


Edited by fledgehog (05/16/11 07:28 PM)

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#1678947 - 05/16/11 07:32 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
jesseoffy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/16/10
Posts: 240
A few, relatively subtle facial expression are fine, especially if they just come from the feeling of the piece. It probably will help you feel the piece a bit more, though don't become another Lang Lang (this also applies to body movements). Although I don't really like his playing (ok, I don't like watching him at all) he probably does for show - playing show pieces and putting on a lot of flaire. Just do what is natural to you, I guess, or whatever gets the most standing ovations. laugh
_________________________
Chopin, Brahms, Schubert, Rachmaninov

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#1678950 - 05/16/11 07:38 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
riley80 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/03/08
Posts: 380
Loc: Florida
I'm pretty much deadpan when playing, but there are certain passages which cause me to involuntarily work my mouth into a crooked sneer for a few seconds. I have tried to break this habit, but one might as well tell me to stop blinking.

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#1678956 - 05/16/11 07:48 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
Frozenicicles Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/02/09
Posts: 1324
Loc: Canada
Why is it considered inappropriate unless a classical pianist totally ignores the audience? Actors make asides all the time (some not written into the script). I mean, who are you really performing for? The composer is long dead, but the audience is alive and paid for their tickets. IMO, some amount of movement is good because it helps with communication. Chamber groups often move around a lot and rely on visual cues with each other to make a great performance. Likewise, soloists can use body and facial expressions to communicate with the conductor. In an orchestra, the concert master and section leaders use visual cues to communicate with the rest of the performers. This shows that it is difficult to use sound alone to communicate the whole message. If this is acceptable, why is it inappropriate for a musician to communicate to the audience via visual cues?

I don't deliberately move around too much or change my facial expressions because it would probably screw up my playing, but those who can do it well definitely add an advantage to their performances.

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#1678961 - 05/16/11 07:53 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: pianoman76]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19228
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: pianoman76
Let's say a musician's facial expressions and body contortions *do* seem over the top, but it's all really subconscious for them. Do you (and others here) think they should go out of their way to break themselves of the habit?


I think this is an interesting question. I don't have an answer, but I can tell you what Alfred Brendel did. Some of his friends told him that both his facial expressions and arm movements were detracting from his performances. Having concluded they were correct, Brendel installed mirrors on the sides of his piano at home so he could monitor his expressions/movements. He said that before he did this he once had a performance of the Brahms Handel Variations where his arms flew up so violently at the end that this glasses went flying across the stage.

I think the problem of facial expressions etc. is somewhat overblown because:

1. The number of famous pianists who do this to what I would call an extreme is very small IMO. I can only think of LL, Bozhanov, Watts, and Uchida.

2. The Youtube views are often much closer than anyone would be in a concert hall, and most people in a live concert see more of a profile view than is sometimes seen on Youtube. Even Bozhanov doesn't look so bizarre, at least to me, when he is shown in profile. I have seen Uchida at least 5 times and never noticed any distracting expressions that can sometimes be seen in Youtube close ups.


Edited by pianoloverus (05/16/11 07:56 PM)

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#1678964 - 05/16/11 07:58 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
Joy M. Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/15/11
Posts: 3
Loc: USA
Everything in moderation! I prefer performances where the performer's movements seem natural and suit the mood and emotions of the music (regardless of the genre of music). I've seen stiff performances where the performer doesn't move. This usually doesn't bother me much. I've also seen performances where the performer moves WAY too much to the point that it's distracting -- but more importantly, to the point that it doesn't fit the musicality that is audible in the music. That's when it bothers me the most. Movement can reinforce musicality/emotion in the music, but it doesn't create it!

If people are telling you that you make faces or move too much, I suggest videotaping yourself and seeing what you look like. I'm sure it's a tough habit to break, but it's probably worth it.
_________________________
Pianist & Teacher
Color In My Piano blog

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#1678968 - 05/16/11 08:06 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Frozenicicles]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19228
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Frozenicicles
Why is it considered inappropriate unless a classical pianist totally ignores the audience?
I think your statement assumes that not making expressions or movements means the pianist is ignoring the audience.
Originally Posted By: rozencicles
Chamber groups often move around a lot and rely on visual cues with each other to make a great performance. Likewise, soloists can use body and facial expressions to communicate with the conductor. In an orchestra, the concert master and section leaders use visual cues to communicate with the rest of the performers.
Those are to communicate timing etc. with other musicians with whom they are playing. In a solo recital, the pianist is not playing with anyone.



Edited by pianoloverus (05/16/11 08:06 PM)

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#1678969 - 05/16/11 08:09 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Joy M.]
pianoloverus Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19228
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Joy M.
I've also seen performances where the performer moves WAY too much to the point that it's distracting -- but more importantly, to the point that it doesn't fit the musicality that is audible in the music. That's when it bothers me the most. Movement can reinforce musicality/emotion in the music, but it doesn't create it!
This is exactly why Brendel said he decided he should try and change his movements/expressions.

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#1678979 - 05/16/11 08:25 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
fledgehog Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/09/11
Posts: 273
Loc: West Hartford, CT
i still don't see what the huge deal is with something like flinging your arms up in the air at a loud piece ending or something. why do people move their hands around when talking? Why do they do things like tap their fingers or stroke their chins when pondering something? Would it be considered over-the-top if a violinist or a violist lifted their bow dramatically and vigorously at the end of an exciting piece? Everybody's body is wired differently -- as i said before, if you can play with everything except your forearms and fingers remaining still as a rock, good for you...but if in the PROCESS of making music you HAPPEN to flail your arms all over the place and jump up and down on the bench, does it honestly make even the slightest bit of difference? If anything, making a conscious effort to remove these habits would cause a decline in musical content because you have to worry about something else at the same time.

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#1678992 - 05/16/11 08:52 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: pianoman76]
carey Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6219
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: pianoman76
[
Let's say a musician's facial expressions and body contortions *do* seem over the top, but it's all really subconscious for them. Do you (and others here) think they should go out of their way to break themselves of the habit?


This topic has been discussed TO DEATH in these forums. But to address your statement above, if its a "subconscious" thing (i.e., Andre Watts) then I really don't have a problem with it. When it is done intentionally (i.e., Lang Lang)...then it bothers me. Just my personal opinion, of course.
_________________________
YouTube channel - http://www.youtube.com/user/pianophilo

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#1678993 - 05/16/11 08:55 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: carey]
ChopinAddict Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/09
Posts: 6096
Loc: Land of the never-ending music
Originally Posted By: carey
Originally Posted By: pianoman76
[
Let's say a musician's facial expressions and body contortions *do* seem over the top, but it's all really subconscious for them. Do you (and others here) think they should go out of their way to break themselves of the habit?


This topic has been discussed TO DEATH in these forums. But to address your statement above, if its a "subconscious" thing (i.e., Andre Watts) then I really don't have a problem with it. When it is done intentionally (i.e., Lang Lang)...then it bothers me. Just my personal opinion, of course.


I share your personal opinion! smile
_________________________



Music is my best friend.


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#1679010 - 05/16/11 09:23 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
Amant Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/29/07
Posts: 310
Loc: Southwest
Originally Posted By: Batuhan
Whats wrong with lang lang ? .... I like Bozhanov's expressions they are so natural.


Lang Lang's expressions are practiced, contrived and exaggerated. As such they do not convey true inner feeling as much "bad" acting to portray feeling. (Nothing that properly placed cattle prods & a Louisville Slugger couldn't correct and prove a beneficial cure for society, mind you.)

Bozahnov's expression are seemingly natural.

Also check out Oscar Peterson on "YouTube" if you care to to see natural, spontaneous expression that coveys sincere inner feelings and feedback with his audience.

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#1679013 - 05/16/11 09:28 PM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: fledgehog]
Amant Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/29/07
Posts: 310
Loc: Southwest
Originally Posted By: fledgehog
i still don't see what the huge deal is with something like flinging your arms up in the air at a loud piece ending or something. why do people move their hands around when talking? Why do they do things like tap their fingers or stroke their chins when pondering something? Would it be considered over-the-top if a violinist or a violist lifted their bow dramatically and vigorously at the end of an exciting piece? Everybody's body is wired differently -- as i said before, if you can play with everything except your forearms and fingers remaining still as a rock, good for you...but if in the PROCESS of making music you HAPPEN to flail your arms all over the place and jump up and down on the bench, does it honestly make even the slightest bit of difference? If anything, making a conscious effort to remove these habits would cause a decline in musical content because you have to worry about something else at the same time.


Emotional exuberant spontaneity is a pleasure to behold. An actor provocateur working hard to convey emotional exuberant spontaneity is artificial, contrived and displeasing.

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#1679122 - 05/17/11 02:23 AM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: pianoman76]
polyphasicpianist Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/21/11
Posts: 1238
Originally Posted By: pianoman76

Let's say a musician's facial expressions and body contortions *do* seem over the top, but it's all really subconscious for them. Do you (and others here) think they should go out of their way to break themselves of the habit?


The expressions are NOT subconcious. When Lang Lang acts like Lang Lang, or Angela Hewitt acts like Angela Hewitt, ect., they KNOW they are doing it. In fact, I would bet money they make an effort to practice it that way.

Watch Lang Lang here, it's like he has flipped a switch and is a instant state of bliss: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubVVSWHkxs8
Same thing with Angela Hewitt, it's like flipping a switch:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZAeLjliS1LY

The whole performance is spent in a state of, what we are supposed to believe is, pure ecstasy; however, it just doesn't happen like that (especially in front of large audiences), and if it does, it is so rare as to be irrelevant.

Tolstoy had a great analogy:
The musician is like the swan gliding across the water, on the surface it is graceful and elegant, but underneath the water its feet are flapping like mad and agitating the water profusely. (I am paraphrasing, of course). Everything above the water is what we hear (and see), and everything beneath the water is representative of the musicians mind.

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#1679163 - 05/17/11 05:58 AM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: Batuhan]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2600
Loc: Manchester, UK
Where can I find that Tolstoy quote exactly?

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#1679164 - 05/17/11 06:01 AM Re: Facial Expressions While Playing. [Re: debrucey]
debrucey Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/18/06
Posts: 2600
Loc: Manchester, UK
Friend of mine said I mostly look contemplative but occasionally strained or anxious. What do you think?

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