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#2240225 - 03/02/14 03:41 PM What do you think about while you're playing?
ChopinLives81 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/10/04
Posts: 1425
Loc: New York City
I'm curious to find out what goes through everyone's heads as you play a piece. I want to be clear though on something. There are two kinds of thoughts that go on simultaneously :

1)subconscious perceptive thoughts: these are the thoughts are are between memory and 2nd nature. Like the dynamics or the tone that you know you have to give, but don't really need to pay detailed attention to.

2)Conscious active thoughts: These are the things we say and hear in our heads. Like if you're playing something and you get a cramp and say to yourself "damn that hurts, gotta try and keep it together though...i wonder if anyone noticed?"

So I'm curious about the 2nd type of thoughts. The active ones. I'm sort of between just being blank to playing portions of the piece I'm playing, but in my head. Anyone else?
_________________________
"A Sorceror of tonality; the piano is my cauldron and the music is my spell, let those who cannot hear my calling die and burn in He11."

Check my videos @:
http://www.youtube.com/user/chopinlives81

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#2240228 - 03/02/14 03:44 PM Re: What do you think about while you're playing? [Re: ChopinLives81]
Polyphonist Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7648
Loc: New York City
"Don't screw up! Don't screw up! Don't screw up! Don't screw up!" grin
_________________________
Regards,

Polyphonist

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#2240230 - 03/02/14 03:46 PM Re: What do you think about while you're playing? [Re: ChopinLives81]
Roland The Beagle Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/17/12
Posts: 256
Loc: California
If I'm in control of the technique, I'm awash with powerful emotions that threaten to overwhelm me and derail the technique. That's why to be really expressive the piece had better be totally locked in my hands for a performance. Of course, if I'm playing for enjoyment, I take as much time as I need to be as expressive as I wish.

Otherwise, I'm balancing consciously adding as much interest as I can while managing the difficult areas of the piece, leading to a somewhat unsatisfying performance.
_________________________
Danzas Argentinas, Alberto Ginastera
Piano Sonata Hob. XVI: 34 in E Minor, Franz Joseph Haydn
Nocturne, Op. 15 No. 1 in F Major, Frédéric Chopin
Prelude, Op. 11 No. 4 in E Minor, Alexander Scriabin
Prelude and Fugue in G Major, Well-Tempered Clavier Vol. 2, Johann Sebastian Bach

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#2240232 - 03/02/14 03:51 PM Re: What do you think about while you're playing? [Re: Polyphonist]
ChopinLives81 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/10/04
Posts: 1425
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
"Don't screw up! Don't screw up! Don't screw up! Don't screw up!" grin


So did you screw up?
_________________________
"A Sorceror of tonality; the piano is my cauldron and the music is my spell, let those who cannot hear my calling die and burn in He11."

Check my videos @:
http://www.youtube.com/user/chopinlives81

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#2240233 - 03/02/14 03:52 PM Re: What do you think about while you're playing? [Re: ChopinLives81]
Polyphonist Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/03/13
Posts: 7648
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: ChopinLives81
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
"Don't screw up! Don't screw up! Don't screw up! Don't screw up!" grin

So did you screw up?

That information is restricted.
_________________________
Regards,

Polyphonist

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#2240239 - 03/02/14 03:59 PM Re: What do you think about while you're playing? [Re: Polyphonist]
gooddog Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 4806
Loc: Seattle area, WA
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
"Don't screw up! Don't screw up! Don't screw up! Don't screw up!" grin
Besides that laugh , once I've learned the notes, my thoughts are fully focused on what I am playing and what I am about to play in terms of emotions, phrasing, articulation, rubato and dynamics. I've got a "story" to tell and there is so much to focus on, I don't seem to have room in my head for random thoughts. I can focus like this for a long time provided I am alone and the house is quiet. On the rare occasions when I use a practice room, (summer piano camp), I can go like this for hours.

(Unfortunately, most of my practice time takes place right in the middle of my home with dogs barking, doorbells ringing, husbands needing attention, phones jingling, oven timers beeping, washing machines finishing their cycle, sons coming in the door, etc. Then I lose focus, throw up my hands in frustration and find something else to do for a while.)
_________________________
Best regards,

Deborah

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#2240257 - 03/02/14 04:26 PM Re: What do you think about while you're playing? [Re: ChopinLives81]
Pathbreaker Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/04
Posts: 1098
Loc: Massachusetts
There's not a lot of room in there. I hear mostly just the melody, maybe slightly ahead of time, and sense the tempo or rhythm..again as a staggered concept. Anything additional must be a mental cue, such as "don't forget to make this section sing/brood etc."

It's better to feel than to think, I think.


Edited by Pathbreaker (03/02/14 04:27 PM)

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#2240259 - 03/02/14 04:30 PM Re: What do you think about while you're playing? [Re: Polyphonist]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5321
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
"Don't screw up! Don't screw up! Don't screw up! Don't screw up!" grin

I would add to the end of this:

"#$(*%#&@()#$#*$#(*#$ ..... Don't screw up again! Don't screw up again! Don't..."

laugh
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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#2240260 - 03/02/14 04:31 PM Re: What do you think about while you're playing? [Re: ChopinLives81]
bennevis Online   content
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/14/10
Posts: 5279
It's different depending on whether I'm playing at home for myself, or whether I'm playing for an audience or making a recording.

If I'm 'performing' for myself, I'll experiment with all sorts of tone color and voicing, and even tempi and dynamic variations, to see what ideas I can come up with.

If I'm playing for an audience, the spontaneity (but not experimentation) is spiced with a dash of adrenaline: I go for maximum impact to give a real 'performance' that will (hopefully) draw the audience in. Therefore, I'll be thinking positive thoughts, like how lovely the melody and/or harmony is, or how interesting the figuration. Fast pieces or sections will likely be slightly faster and more 'dangerous'; slow pieces might be slower and more consciously expressive. Wrong notes have long ago stopped bothering me grin - and in any case, I don't play for critics or do any more exams - which helps my playing, as negative thoughts rarely enter my head. (I play for an audience only because I want to, and enjoy it - which also means that I only play what I want to play).

The worst thing that can happen when I'm performing is to bore the audience......
_________________________
"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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#2240262 - 03/02/14 04:32 PM Re: What do you think about while you're playing? [Re: Polyphonist]
Atrys Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/31/13
Posts: 990
Originally Posted By: Polyphonist
"Don't screw up! Don't screw up! Don't screw up! Don't screw up!" grin

laugh Mine's more like "wow that sounded bad, wow that sounded bad, wow that sounded bad"
_________________________
"A good intention but fixed and resolute - bent on high and holy ends, we shall find means to them on every side and at every moment; and even obstacles and opposition will but make us 'like the fabled specter-ships,' which sail the fastest in the very teeth of the wind."
R. W. Emerson

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#2240268 - 03/02/14 04:39 PM Re: What do you think about while you're playing? [Re: ChopinLives81]
Nikolas Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5305
Loc: Europe
Am I the only one going "This is going GREAT! Take that previous performer/competitor/pianist".

Am I also insane like that? grin
_________________________
http://www.musica-ferrum.com

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#2240280 - 03/02/14 05:11 PM Re: What do you think about while you're playing? [Re: Nikolas]
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5321
Loc: Philadelphia
Originally Posted By: Nikolas
Am I the only one going "This is going GREAT! Take that previous performer/competitor/pianist".

Am I also insane like that? grin

If I am competing, I have a very strong/positive mindset. I've always believed that, if you're going to compete, you have to believe you can win. If you enter a competition you don't think you can win, you've wasted your time (and possibly your money).

I'm highly competitive by nature, but if I'm just playing in general, my mindset is very different.
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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#2240282 - 03/02/14 05:12 PM Re: What do you think about while you're playing? [Re: ChopinLives81]
Hrodulf Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/02/09
Posts: 831
Loc: New York City
I try to think of note values and chords.
_________________________
Learning:
Beethoven op 27 no 1 allegro vivace
J.S. Bach wtc book I prelude 10, fugue 10
Exercises

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#2240313 - 03/02/14 06:08 PM Re: What do you think about while you're playing? [Re: ChopinLives81]
MikeN Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/10
Posts: 579
Loc: Ohio
I'm feel I'm constantly fighting the adrenaline and the shaking of my hand. Otherwise I typical find my thoughts completely unmemorable with the exception of when I'm counting a passage. This Friday I had a very disconcerting moment where I looked up from the piano(something I almost never do) and I saw my teacher had just sort of appeared on that sided of the hall( I didn't hear him come in.). That surprise really threw my concentration. laugh

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#2240316 - 03/02/14 06:14 PM Re: What do you think about while you're playing? [Re: MikeN]
ChopinLives81 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/10/04
Posts: 1425
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: MikeN
I'm feel I'm constantly fighting the adrenaline and the shaking of my hand. Otherwise I typical find my thoughts completely unmemorable with the exception of when I'm counting a passage. This Friday I had a very disconcerting moment where I looked up from the piano(something I almost never do) and I saw my teacher had just sort of appeared on that sided of the hall( I didn't hear him come in.). That surprise really threw my concentration. laugh


You know something, I get that too sometimes. I almost feel like it warrants a separate thread, but I sometimes get uncontrollable shaky hands too. The problem is that it's never consistent. Sometimes I play for a group of people or a friend of mind and i'm perfectly fine. Other times I'll play for another friend and my hands are ready to shake themselves loose from the wrists. I still can't pinpoint why it happens in some situations and not in others. Even in the most casual and laid back situations in my own home, it comes and goes...
_________________________
"A Sorceror of tonality; the piano is my cauldron and the music is my spell, let those who cannot hear my calling die and burn in He11."

Check my videos @:
http://www.youtube.com/user/chopinlives81

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#2240327 - 03/02/14 06:22 PM Re: What do you think about while you're playing? [Re: ChopinLives81]
MichaelJamesMN Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/30/12
Posts: 64
Loc: Minnesota
I don't "think" as I play...I "feel" when I play. If I allow myself to disengage from "feeling" into active thought, my mind quickly starts with the dialogue "don't screw up, don't screw up...", as Polyphonist referred to (and cracked me up!) or "Oh no, where am I?" or in the case of playing for others, "What are they thinking?" All of which are simply noise and detract from my playing.

Like Deborah said, I, too, am able to completely immerse/submerge myself into my music as long as there aren't any distractions. Since I live with four animals, I may get distracted occasionally, but not very often. Without looking at a clock, I can easily play for hours without noticing the passage of time.

The worst for me, however, is if I host or play in a recital and there is talking among the attendees. I get angry and stop playing altogether. I've learned who to invite, so that hasn't happened in a long time.

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#2240334 - 03/02/14 06:31 PM Re: What do you think about while you're playing? [Re: ChopinLives81]
MikeN Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/10
Posts: 579
Loc: Ohio
Originally Posted By: ChopinLives81
Originally Posted By: MikeN
I'm feel I'm constantly fighting the adrenaline and the shaking of my hand. Otherwise I typical find my thoughts completely unmemorable with the exception of when I'm counting a passage. This Friday I had a very disconcerting moment where I looked up from the piano(something I almost never do) and I saw my teacher had just sort of appeared on that sided of the hall( I didn't hear him come in.). That surprise really threw my concentration. laugh


You know something, I get that too sometimes. I almost feel like it warrants a separate thread, but I sometimes get uncontrollable shaky hands too. The problem is that it's never consistent. Sometimes I play for a group of people or a friend of mind and i'm perfectly fine. Other times I'll play for another friend and my hands are ready to shake themselves loose from the wrists. I still can't pinpoint why it happens in some situations and not in others. Even in the most casual and laid back situations in my own home, it comes and goes...

Unfortunately, for me it's quite a regular occurrence. God forbid I'm playing light passage work at a speedy tempo.

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#2240344 - 03/02/14 06:43 PM Re: What do you think about while you're playing? [Re: ChopinLives81]
phantomFive Online   content
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/11/14
Posts: 1518
Loc: California
If I find there is some section where I'm having trouble paying attention to the music, I change the way I'm playing it so it's more interesting.

If I can't pay attention, being the one playing it, then how can the audience pay attention!
_________________________
Poetry is rhythm.

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#2240347 - 03/02/14 06:48 PM Re: What do you think about while you're playing? [Re: phantomFive]
Pathbreaker Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/04
Posts: 1098
Loc: Massachusetts
Isn't it disturbing when you realize you haven't even been paying attention? Sometimes I realize I'm thinking about a shopping list or something that happened at work... help

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#2240373 - 03/02/14 07:31 PM Re: What do you think about while you're playing? [Re: Pathbreaker]
ChopinLives81 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/10/04
Posts: 1425
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Pathbreaker
Isn't it disturbing when you realize you haven't even been paying attention? Sometimes I realize I'm thinking about a shopping list or something that happened at work... help


5 pages into Chopin's 4th ballade..."damn I forgot to add a dozen eggs to the list, and my friend is already getting the ingredients for that cake we gotta make....oh well, at least this Bach fugue is sounding pretty goo....oooh damn..."
_________________________
"A Sorceror of tonality; the piano is my cauldron and the music is my spell, let those who cannot hear my calling die and burn in He11."

Check my videos @:
http://www.youtube.com/user/chopinlives81

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#2240377 - 03/02/14 07:42 PM Re: What do you think about while you're playing? [Re: ChopinLives81]
Ted Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/03/02
Posts: 1514
Loc: Auckland, New Zealand
With my improvisation there is often an initial period of conscious thought serving as a starting mechanism, but once fully under way I am more of a listener and spectator. If associations, emotions and images occur I allow them free rein. However, any such thoughts are usually both personal and mundane, decidedly undramatic, lacking sense to anyone else and are very rarely attached to the recording during later hearings. In short, I just let my mind run free.
_________________________
"It is inadvisable to decline a dinner invitation from a plump woman." - Fred Hollows

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#2240382 - 03/02/14 07:53 PM Re: What do you think about while you're playing? [Re: MichaelJamesMN]
gooddog Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 4806
Loc: Seattle area, WA
Originally Posted By: MichaelJamesMN
The worst for me, however, is if I host or play in a recital and there is talking among the attendees. I get angry and stop playing altogether.
This brings to mind a quote from Alan Walker's wonderful biography of Liszt, volume 1:

"He himself (Liszt) occasionally went out of his way to make an enemy of powerful aristocrats if he thought that his dignity as an artist had suffered. Into this category falls his chilling reply to Tsar Nicholas I of Russia, who arrived late and then started talking during one of Liszt's recitals. When Nicholas inquired the cause of the hushed silence, Liszt, replied, 'Music herself should be silent when Nicholas speaks.' This public rebuke may well have cost Liszt a medal It was....the first time that "music herself" had answered back."

Later on the page it says that Liszt grew to detest the Tsar.
_________________________
Best regards,

Deborah

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#2240388 - 03/02/14 08:03 PM Re: What do you think about while you're playing? [Re: gooddog]
BruceD Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 18136
Loc: Victoria, BC
Originally Posted By: gooddog
[...] husbands needing attention, [...]


Er ... um ... Deborah; how many do you have - at the moment? smile
_________________________
BruceD
- - - - -
Estonia 190

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#2240392 - 03/02/14 08:08 PM Re: What do you think about while you're playing? [Re: gooddog]
MichaelJamesMN Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/30/12
Posts: 64
Loc: Minnesota
I completely understand Liszt's reaction. Funny (or sad) for me is that my mother is my WORST listener. She cannot keep her mouth shut to save her ever-lovin' soul! Unlike my father, who is the most attentive and interested listener I could ever hope for.

So how do I invite my father and ask my mother to stay home? LOL

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#2240396 - 03/02/14 08:10 PM Re: What do you think about while you're playing? [Re: ChopinLives81]
Music Me Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/23/12
Posts: 221
Loc: New York
I also feel when I play. It is an unplugging for me from "thinking". I lose all sense of time. The only inkling I have of time is when my butt starts to go numb from sitting so long. Then, I'll look at the clock and realize that 1 1/2 to 2 plus hours has gone by.

Playing is sacred to me; whether for myself or in public. I go to that special place that music, the piano, playing, takes me to.

Thank God for it. Don't know where I would be without it.
_________________________
Barbara
...without music, no life...

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#2240409 - 03/02/14 08:30 PM Re: What do you think about while you're playing? [Re: ChopinLives81]
ChopinAddict Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/29/09
Posts: 6112
Loc: Land of the never-ending music
Add me to those who feel and lose all sense of time when they play.
_________________________



Music is my best friend.


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#2240410 - 03/02/14 08:32 PM Re: What do you think about while you're playing? [Re: Music Me]
ChopinLives81 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/10/04
Posts: 1425
Loc: New York City
Originally Posted By: Music Me
I also feel when I play. It is an unplugging for me from "thinking". I lose all sense of time. The only inkling I have of time is when my butt starts to go numb from sitting so long. Then, I'll look at the clock and realize that 1 1/2 to 2 plus hours has gone by.

Playing is sacred to me; whether for myself or in public. I go to that special place that music, the piano, playing, takes me to.

Thank God for it. Don't know where I would be without it.


For the first 2 1/2 years of me playing I was standing up the whole whole time. I had a keyboard and it was up on a high work bench in my room with no room underneath to sit. So I had to learn, practice and play everything standing up all the time. My butt going numb was never an issue, but my feet..oh my feet...
_________________________
"A Sorceror of tonality; the piano is my cauldron and the music is my spell, let those who cannot hear my calling die and burn in He11."

Check my videos @:
http://www.youtube.com/user/chopinlives81

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#2240428 - 03/02/14 09:38 PM Re: What do you think about while you're playing? [Re: BruceD]
gooddog Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 4806
Loc: Seattle area, WA
Originally Posted By: BruceD
Originally Posted By: gooddog
[...] husbands needing attention, [...]


Er ... um ... Deborah; how many do you have - at the moment? smile

Oops.
_________________________
Best regards,

Deborah

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#2240446 - 03/02/14 10:16 PM Re: What do you think about while you're playing? [Re: ChopinLives81]
jdw Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/04/11
Posts: 1002
Loc: Philadelphia, PA
I feel I'm way better off without conscious thought during a performance. If it's not "don't screw up ... etc." it's, "gee, that went pretty well, it's going to be fin.....oops, what was that?"
_________________________
1989 Baldwin R
Currently working on:
Grieg, Papillon
Mozart, K 330
Brahms, Op. 118 no. 2

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#2240471 - 03/02/14 11:45 PM Re: What do you think about while you're playing? [Re: BruceD]
Nikolas Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5305
Loc: Europe
Originally Posted By: BruceD
Originally Posted By: gooddog
[...] husbands needing attention, [...]


Er ... um ... Deborah; how many do you have - at the moment? smile
My guess is that Deborah is living in the negative world of a harem! grin
_________________________
http://www.musica-ferrum.com

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