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#1904579 - 05/28/12 06:30 PM Should performers smile when they come on stage?
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19202
Loc: New York City
Not many seem to do this, but I have seen it immediately win over the audience(or maybe it was just me?). The few I can think offhand that do this are Mei Ting Sun, Jose Ramos Santana, Horowitz, and LL. Most pianists are relatively unsmiling when they first come on stage.

What do you think?

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#1904581 - 05/28/12 06:33 PM Re: Should performers smile when they come on stage? [Re: pianoloverus]
Mark_C Offline
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Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19603
Loc: New York
I wouldn't say they "should." It's good if it fits the personality of the performer, but if it doesn't, IMO it's worse than nothing (as if anything else uncomfortable or unnatural for the person). I think some kind of 'engagement' with the audience is good, whether smiling or something else, but I'd say the only bad thing is a demeanor of complete detachment. Anything else is fine.

The only major performer I've ever seen who was a negative in this respect was Lazar Berman, and even he wasn't that bad. He would just come out and take one quick bow, perfunctorily and expressionlessly; likewise on the 'curtain calls.' I found it more amusing that anything else. I figured it just meant that he didn't care for that part of what he had to do.

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#1904592 - 05/28/12 06:58 PM Re: Should performers smile when they come on stage? [Re: pianoloverus]
Orange Soda King Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/25/09
Posts: 6069
Loc: Louisville, Kentucky, United S...
I would prefer the performer to smile, but that's just me. I like to smile coming on stage.

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#1904598 - 05/28/12 07:06 PM Re: Should performers smile when they come on stage? [Re: pianoloverus]
tomasino Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/24/05
Posts: 2039
Loc: Minneapolis, Minnesota
In general, I feel that pianists do not deliberately cultivate a stage demeanor. What I usually see in recitals, from amateur to high end professionals, seems to be a kind of stage demeanor by default--doing what comes naturally--even if it appears ugly and unflattering to the audience.

To smile or not? I can't answer that for you. It depends on the venue, the sense of occasion, the music to be played, place in the program, and many other considerations--as well as your innate personality. Having said that, I think it's a very important beginning question for anyone whose business is going to involve being on stage.

Tomasino


Edited by tomasino (05/28/12 07:31 PM)
_________________________
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#1904602 - 05/28/12 07:18 PM Re: Should performers smile when they come on stage? [Re: tomasino]
BruceD Offline
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Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 17801
Loc: Victoria, BC
Originally Posted By: tomasino
[...]even if it is ugly, unflattering, and rude to the audience.
[...]Tomasino


"... ugly, unflattering and rude..."? Really?

Regards,
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#1904607 - 05/28/12 07:26 PM Re: Should performers smile when they come on stage? [Re: tomasino]
carey Offline
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Registered: 05/13/05
Posts: 6147
Loc: Phoenix, Arizona
Originally Posted By: tomasino
What I usually see in recitals, and what I have come to expect to see, is a kind of default stage demeanor. They do what comes naturally--by default--even if it is ugly, unflattering, and rude to the audience.
Tomasino


In that case, they shouldn't even bother to play in front of an audience. Seriously. smokin

Back in the days, I always smiled when walking out on stage - and I was sincere.

And on the rare occasions when I played extremely well I treated the audience and myself to a big GRIN. grin
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#1904634 - 05/28/12 08:24 PM Re: Should performers smile when they come on stage? [Re: pianoloverus]
beet31425 Online   content
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Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3694
Loc: Bay Area, CA
I have a relatively radical take:

They should smile. They should talk to the audience. They should introduce the pieces they're going to play, talk about them a little bit. The evening should be more than bow-play-bow-walk_offstage-return-repeat. I would like to see the classical world take a note from the small-stage indie pop world and relax some of the ritual formalities of the experience.

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#1904636 - 05/28/12 08:28 PM Re: Should performers smile when they come on stage? [Re: pianoloverus]
Damon Offline
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Registered: 09/22/06
Posts: 6052
Loc: St. Louis area
Depends on the condition of their teeth.
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#1904648 - 05/28/12 08:44 PM Re: Should performers smile when they come on stage? [Re: beet31425]
gooddog Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 4745
Loc: Seattle area, WA
Originally Posted By: beet31425
I have a relatively radical take:

They should smile. They should talk to the audience. They should introduce the pieces they're going to play, talk about them a little bit. The evening should be more than bow-play-bow-walk_offstage-return-repeat. I would like to see the classical world take a note from the small-stage indie pop world and relax some of the ritual formalities of the experience.
I think you are right. I took a performance anxiety class and we were told we should smile before (and hopefully after) we play to engage the audience and because it makes you, the pianist, feel more positive about your performance.

It has worked pretty well for me but I've had one summer instructor, (Bruce, I'm talking about Anna), who is an exceptionally gifted pianist but is terrified of performing. She smiles before she plays because she was taught to do that, but on her it looks more like a forced grimace. So maybe smiling isn't for everyone.
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#1904705 - 05/28/12 10:38 PM Re: Should performers smile when they come on stage? [Re: pianoloverus]
leemax Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/16/10
Posts: 501
Loc: pacific nw, usa
I like it when they smile. I don't know if anyone has a nicer smile or stage demeanor than Horowitz did, from the youtube videos I have seen of him.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r6YCSeeMN4I&feature=fvwrel
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Lee

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#1904753 - 05/29/12 12:00 AM Re: Should performers smile when they come on stage? [Re: beet31425]
Mark_C Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/11/09
Posts: 19603
Loc: New York
Originally Posted By: beet31425
I have a relatively radical take:

They should smile. They should talk to the audience. They should introduce the pieces they're going to play, talk about them a little bit. The evening should be more than bow-play-bow-walk_offstage-return-repeat. I would like to see the classical world take a note from the small-stage indie pop world and relax some of the ritual formalities of the experience.

I've always done that, and over the years, I've seen that more and more pianists seem to. I don't know if I would have felt free to start doing it when I did if I were at a 'more serious' level; I think being "just an amateur" made me freer to do whatever.

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#1904758 - 05/29/12 12:04 AM Re: Should performers smile when they come on stage? [Re: pianoloverus]
polyphasicpianist Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/21/11
Posts: 1238
The fact that this is even a question speaks volumes about the State of Classical Music.

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#1904761 - 05/29/12 12:11 AM Re: Should performers smile when they come on stage? [Re: pianoloverus]
Ferdinand Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/23/07
Posts: 935
Loc: California
Yes, if they are Liberace. No, if they are Gilels or Richter.

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#1904762 - 05/29/12 12:18 AM Re: Should performers smile when they come on stage? [Re: Mark_C]
beet31425 Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/09
Posts: 3694
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Originally Posted By: Mark_C
Originally Posted By: beet31425
I have a relatively radical take:

They should smile. They should talk to the audience. They should introduce the pieces they're going to play, talk about them a little bit. The evening should be more than bow-play-bow-walk_offstage-return-repeat. I would like to see the classical world take a note from the small-stage indie pop world and relax some of the ritual formalities of the experience.

I've always done that, and over the years, I've seen that more and more pianists seem to. I don't know if I would have felt free to start doing it when I did if I were at a 'more serious' level; I think being "just an amateur" made me freer to do whatever.


Yes, it's perfectly easy for me to suggest it as an armchair amateur; a much scarier thing to do as an aspiring concert artist. Still, I would have thought that there is so much idiosyncrasy and against-the-grain genius among the truly talented, that some great pianists would have found this kind of informal dynamic to be an important part of sharing their artistry.

-J

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#1904783 - 05/29/12 01:10 AM Re: Should performers smile when they come on stage? [Re: Damon]
JoelW Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/12
Posts: 4709
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: Damon
Depends on the condition of their teeth.


LOL

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#1904857 - 05/29/12 06:21 AM Re: Should performers smile when they come on stage? [Re: pianoloverus]
bennevis Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 4744
Pianists should be true to themselves and not put on an artificial smile - certainly not before launching into some gloom-laden work (like Prokofiev's Sonata No.8).

Some pianists play like their stage manner - Michelangeli walks on like a God (or at least an Italian aristocrat), regarding the audience as a mere annoyance to be put up with when he'd rather just play for himself. And his playing is of course glacial perfection.

Others show a great disparity between their platform manner and the way they play: Mikhail Pletnev walks on stage slowly and shyly, almost as if he was embarrassed to be performing, but then does the most outrageous stuff (like playing the start of Mussorgsky's Pictures with one index finger, as if he'd only just learnt to play piano; or playing Balakirev's Islamey as his 3rd encore)....

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#1904880 - 05/29/12 07:31 AM Re: Should performers smile when they come on stage? [Re: beet31425]
Debbusyist Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/10/12
Posts: 208
Loc: I'm standing upside down...
Originally Posted By: beet31425
The evening should be more than bow-play-bow-walk_offstage-return-repeat...


HAH! Totally true. laugh
_________________________
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Shostakovich Piano Concerto op 102. movement 1
Chopin 'Winter Wind' Etude
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#1904924 - 05/29/12 09:07 AM Re: Should performers smile when they come on stage? [Re: pianoloverus]
apple* Offline


Registered: 01/01/03
Posts: 19862
Loc: Kansas
i like a smile ... why not.

I also love how Argerich.. strides out, plops down at the piano and immediately starts playing.. i think that is the most charming and delightful in all piano-dom. she doesn't smile unless she just happens to be smiling.. no artifice.
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#1905037 - 05/29/12 01:00 PM Re: Should performers smile when they come on stage? [Re: pianoloverus]
rada Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/07/06
Posts: 1124
Loc: pagosa springs,co
I think it's best to be natural but that's not always what's popular.

rada


Edited by rada (05/29/12 01:00 PM)

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#1905076 - 05/29/12 02:33 PM Re: Should performers smile when they come on stage? [Re: pianoloverus]
offnote Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/10/10
Posts: 258
Loc: Banned
far better is when they cry on stage then smile. It adds some drama to their expressiveness. Smiling is risky, maybe they laugh at audience? who knows...

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#1905107 - 05/29/12 03:37 PM Re: Should performers smile when they come on stage? [Re: offnote]
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 17801
Loc: Victoria, BC
Originally Posted By: offnote
far better is when they cry on stage then smile. [...]


Cry and then smile? Huh?
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BruceD
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Estonia 190

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#1905127 - 05/29/12 04:02 PM Re: Should performers smile when they come on stage? [Re: pianoloverus]
wouter79 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/14/10
Posts: 3433
I think it should fit the mood of the performance.

To give an example, I don't think smiling would be fit when next on the program is let's say chopin's funeral march ?
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#1905137 - 05/29/12 04:19 PM Re: Should performers smile when they come on stage? [Re: pianoloverus]
DameMyra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/21/04
Posts: 1940
Loc: South Jersey
Why not smile? I personally connect much easier with someone when they smile. A smile invites connection, and what could be more intimate than performing for others?
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#1905160 - 05/29/12 05:09 PM Re: Should performers smile when they come on stage? [Re: DameMyra]
Mozart'sGal Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/17/12
Posts: 82
I like the idea of actually talking to the audience about what you are going to play. I think it would relax the whole experience for the listeners AND the pianist.

It is all I can do to finish my piece and meet the audiences' eyes, smile and bow, rather than run off the stage as soon as I finish.



Edited by Mozart'sGal (05/29/12 05:09 PM)
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#1905192 - 05/29/12 05:56 PM Re: Should performers smile when they come on stage? [Re: bennevis]
fnork Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/01/04
Posts: 1682
Loc: Helsinki, finland
Originally Posted By: bennevis
Pianists should be true to themselves and not put on an artificial smile - certainly not before launching into some gloom-laden work (like Prokofiev's Sonata No.8)

I was about to say something similar. Somehow I was reminded of a chamber music concert of my own ages ago where I played the Brahms trio op. 8 which has one of those breathtakingly passionate endings - the last movement is in B minor and ends tragically in that key. Once we had played those stormy last pages and people started to applaud, I saw the most gigantic smile coming from my violinist collague, it is hard to describe but it was really terribly out of sync with the music that we had just played.

I guess it is one thing if you go on stage to perform the Beethoven´s last three piano sonatas or if you are about to do the Horowitz Carmen variations as an encore...
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#1905651 - 05/30/12 04:15 PM Re: Should performers smile when they come on stage? [Re: pianoloverus]
Pogorelich. Offline
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Registered: 12/28/08
Posts: 4526
Loc: in the past
Smiling reduces nerves.

I've discovered I play best when I'm playing with friends - lots of smiles on stage, laughter off stage.. It's calming.
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'I want to invest my emotions only in music; it will never disappoint me or hurt me - it is a safe place to be.'

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#1905678 - 05/30/12 05:01 PM Re: Should performers smile when they come on stage? [Re: pianoloverus]
TheHappyMoron Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/06/10
Posts: 1166
Loc: UK
Well smiling is supposed to be contagious. I suppose a smile creates a good atmosphere all round, provided it's sincere.
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All theory, dear friend, is grey, but the golden tree of life springs ever green.

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#1905746 - 05/30/12 08:57 PM Re: Should performers smile when they come on stage? [Re: Mozart'sGal]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7741
Originally Posted By: Mozart'sGal
I like the idea of actually talking to the audience about what you are going to play. I think it would relax the whole experience for the listeners AND the pianist.



It doesn't relax me when a performer speaks to the audience. At best, I'm like "c'mon, we're not here to hear you talk - let's get on with the music". At worst (which is more often than not), it makes me cringe. For one thing, there's something inherently condescending about it, I think. And there's no reason a good pianist should also be a good public speaker - many aren't. If people need education about the music, that's what program notes are for.

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#1905773 - 05/30/12 10:14 PM Re: Should performers smile when they come on stage? [Re: pianoloverus]
Chopinlover49 Online   content
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/17/11
Posts: 624
Loc: NY and NC
In a normal concert situation, I like an air of formality before and during the concert, but think it is fine for the performer to smile, talk to the audience, or whatever, after performing, especially if he is going to perform encores or take a request. However, there are many other performing situations. As a school teacher, I often took students to special school concerts where the performer or conductor was teaching the children about the music, the composer, the orchestra, and so on. These were wonderful and a sparkling personality never hurt. I remember the wonderful Berstein school performances where he spoke to the audience, explained what was going to be played, and so on. Wonderful! Actually, I guess if Howowitz or Rubinstein or Argerich came out in shorts and tank top, made a few jokes, and then played the heck out of the Rach 3 I wouldn't mind at all!
_________________________
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Working on jazz standards and Chopin nocturnes, preludes, and mazurkas (the easier ones.)

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#1905780 - 05/30/12 10:41 PM Re: Should performers smile when they come on stage? [Re: Chopinlover49]
wr Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 7741
Originally Posted By: Chopinlover49
I remember the wonderful Berstein school performances where he spoke to the audience, explained what was going to be played, and so on. Wonderful!


I loved the Bernstein televised "Young People's Concerts". But then, they were intended as educational events, not regular concerts. And I was part of the target audience at the time, and in learning mode. He didn't usually talk to the audience at the regular concerts (unless Glenn Gould was involved). I often heard the weekly broadcasts of him and the Philharmonic on the radio, in which case the announcer would provide some program notes. That format actually made sense to me, since we listeners had no other information available about the concert.

I don't usually mind a short introductory talk if the music is brand new or otherwise completely unknown to most of the knowledgeable people in the audience. But I've seen even those go bad because the attempt to describe the music alienated the audience instead of making it more approachable.

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