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#408226 - 01/24/09 02:09 PM Emotions and Expressing
firediscovery Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/07/08
Posts: 13
I have noticed that when I listen to or play a beautiful piece for the first time, I am very touched, and I cab bring out all the emotions, and feelings. However, after I have practiced over and over again, I lose the expressiveness. By the time of the recital, I have a perfect technical ability of the piece, but I have lost the emotional side. For example, when I first played the Moonlight Sonata, I almost cried at the end. Now, my impression is just a easy piece with lots of triplets. What can I do to retain the musical emotions when playing, or even listening to a piece?
_________________________
"I am a general. My soldiers are the keys and I have to command them."

-Vladmir Horowitz

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#408227 - 01/24/09 02:14 PM Re: Emotions and Expressing
JustAnotherPianist Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/20/08
Posts: 798
Loc: United Kingdom
It sounds as if you lack what it takes to be a performer if this is truly the case.

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#408228 - 01/24/09 02:18 PM Re: Emotions and Expressing
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
Maybe if you understood the music better. The Moonlight, for instance, was nicked from the opening death scene of Mozart's Don Giovanni. It's not just a bunch of triplets.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#408229 - 01/24/09 02:46 PM Re: Emotions and Expressing
kensuguro Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/21/09
Posts: 10
Loc: nyc
I think that's the natural progression I think.. it's not as if a performer is 100% emotional all the time, at 100% of his capability.. I remember a Bill Evans interview.. you have good ones, and not so good ones, but his thing was that if you keep the performance consistent (regardless of how you feel about it), the you've done your job as a performer.

If the case is that you COMPLETELY can't feel anything... I'm not sure what to say.. I do think that once you feel that a piece is easy, and can see and feel how it's built, then it should be that much more easier for you to impose your feelings onto it. Which in the end, will lead to a more successful performance.

For listening, I think listening to a piece and feeling the same emotions at the same magnitude all the time, is a fallacy. People say "it gets me every time", or things like that, as a figure of speech. Cognitively I doubt that is what is really happening. So, if the sensation diminishes, I don't think it's that big of a deal. Perhaps, the more you know a piece, you can start appreciating it from a higher or deeper perspective. And while that may not be as sensational, or emotional, it may lead to a more intellectual type of enjoyment.

Also, this is a very general statement, but it may also pay to have dynamic experiences yourself too. Performing a piece on a piano, can be as simple as executing the written notes.. as in, performing for sake of performing it. But, with a dynamic life experience, you can perform for the sake of communicating your dynamic emotional experiences.. Which usually is a better way to communicate. I mean, you need to have a message (preferably something powerful) before you try to say anything right?

I'm not much of a performer, but I do compose. Most art forms end up being introspective.. asking yourself questions, learning about yourself and your emotions, your experiences.. so depending on how deep you want to go, it's important that you know these things. But I guess you're knocking on the right door.. you already questioned how you feel, or rather, why you're not feeling anything. That is the first big step I think. You want to be aware of these things, be sensitive of what's going on inside you.

Either way, there are always ways to make something interesting. That's where much of the effort and creativity goes to I think.

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#408230 - 01/24/09 02:57 PM Re: Emotions and Expressing
William Clark Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/19/09
Posts: 93
Think of your technical ability as giving you what is needed to express yourself. Technical ability is not the end - simply the means.
_________________________
A concert should be a profound and magical experience for both
the performer and audience. It is in performance that
you experience the true essence of a composer.

~W. Clark

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#408231 - 01/24/09 03:08 PM Re: Emotions and Expressing
Phlebas Offline


Registered: 01/02/03
Posts: 4654
Loc: New York City
 Quote:
Originally posted by JustAnotherPianist:
It sounds as if you lack what it takes to be a performer if this is truly the case. [/b]
I doubt that you know enough about the OP to make a snide and unhelpful comment like that.

Firediscovery, I think what happens when you first hear - or play - a beautiful piece is your focus may be on an initial impression of the emotional content. After hearing it, and studying it more and more, that initial impression wears off. That can be a natural reaction to repetition. However, what you want to communicate to listeners when you perform is the beauty and emotional content of the piece, so oyu have to find away to keep it fresh, and find what you originally saw in the piece again.

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#408232 - 01/24/09 03:52 PM Re: Emotions and Expressing
pianoloverus Online   content
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 19451
Loc: New York City
I think one of the criteria that the very greatest classical works meet is that one can play or listen to them more than lesser(but good)works and not get bored.

I do often wonder how some pianists can pkay the same program for 10 or even 30+ recitals and not get bored. Even harder for a those performing a Broadway show almost avery day for a year.

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#408233 - 01/24/09 04:17 PM Re: Emotions and Expressing
JustAnotherPianist Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/20/08
Posts: 798
Loc: United Kingdom
 Quote:
Originally posted by Phlebas:
 Quote:
Originally posted by JustAnotherPianist:
It sounds as if you lack what it takes to be a performer if this is truly the case. [/b]
I doubt that you know enough about the OP to make a snide and unhelpful comment like that.

Firediscovery, I think what happens when you first hear - or play - a beautiful piece is your focus may be on an initial impression of the emotional content. After hearing it, and studying it more and more, that initial impression wears off. That can be a natural reaction to repetition. However, what you want to communicate to listeners when you perform is the beauty and emotional content of the piece, so oyu have to find away to keep it fresh, and find what you originally saw in the piece again. [/b]
I remember the OP as being the author of a thread saying that he had all 48 of the WTC in his repertoire at the age of 12 and couldn't decide what to play for his audition to Juilliard...

I couldn't care less how old you are or how many preludes and fugues you can play from memory.

If you cannot make a piece of music sound fresh after you have practiced it over and over again, this is not the right career for you to be in.

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#408234 - 01/24/09 04:35 PM Re: Emotions and Expressing
Norah Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/15/09
Posts: 51
Loc: British Columbia
Having a life certainly helps. Some of the posts I have read on PW where people are practising 4-5 hours a day and I assume,working..you've got to wonder.

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#408235 - 01/24/09 05:02 PM Re: Emotions and Expressing
Larisa Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/03/08
Posts: 498
Loc: Philadelphia
I think you have to actively concentrate on the emotional side of things. Treat it as seriously as you treat technique. When you practice, practice with emotion - even if you're repeating the same measure over and over.

What I found helpful is to have some kind of image or scene in my mind as I begin to play, and to focus on that for a while before I start playing. So as you're playing the Moonlight Sonata, think about the mood of the piece - think about the last time you felt that way, and what the situation was, and pour it all into the music.

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#408236 - 01/24/09 05:05 PM Re: Emotions and Expressing
keyboardklutz Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/21/07
Posts: 10856
Loc: London, UK (though if it's Aug...
 Quote:
Originally posted by Larisa:
So as you're playing the Moonlight Sonata, think about the mood of the piece - think about the last time you felt that way, and what the situation was, and pour it all into the music. [/b]
As it's about a geeza dying, that could be a little difficult.
_________________________
snobbyish, yet maybe helpful.
http://keyboardclass.blogspot.com/


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#408237 - 01/24/09 08:48 PM Re: Emotions and Expressing
Norah Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/15/09
Posts: 51
Loc: British Columbia
my comment above.....way too harsh. I withdraw it. I can easily waste 4-5 hours in a day.

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#408238 - 01/25/09 12:10 AM Re: Emotions and Expressing
Ferdinand Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/23/07
Posts: 943
Loc: California
 Quote:
Originally posted by firediscovery:
By the time of the recital, I have a perfect technical ability of the piece, but I have lost the emotional side.[/b]
Does this mean that you have lost your own sense of emotional connection to the music, or that you have lost the ability to communicate the meaning of the music? The two don't necessarily correlate. Your audience can have a meaningful musical and emotional experience through your performance though you did not have such an experience yourself.

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#408239 - 01/25/09 12:47 AM Re: Emotions and Expressing
gooddog Online   content
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/08/08
Posts: 4804
Loc: Seattle area, WA
Get away from the music for a little while. This will give you time to separate yourself from the technical content of the piece. When you return to it, your ears will hear it anew and the emotionals will be fresh again.
_________________________
Best regards,

Deborah

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#408240 - 01/26/09 05:30 PM Re: Emotions and Expressing
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
It sounds to me like your approach to playing
is incorrect. This "feel the music, express
yourself in your playing, bring out the
inner meaning in the music, understand
the meaning behind each note, etc.",
emotional approach to the piano, is completely
wrong, to my way of thinking.

First, let me say, in a seeming paradox,
that emotion is essential to playing
the piano, because no one would ever sit
down at an awkward, cacaphonous instrument
like this, unless there was a strong emotionally-
based spur behind him to make him do so. However,
it does not follow that one needs to
be emotional about the actual playing
process. Piano playing requires
great physical and mental discipline
and hard, athletic-like training, and
if you sit down and try to just let your
emotions run rampant and expect that
to be the way to learn, then you're
going to severely hamper your progress,
because uncontrolled emotions and
mental discipline do not go hand in hand.

On the contrary, one needs to rein in
his emotions totally when playing,
in order to apply the physical and mental
discipline necessary to become a good
player. This crying while playing is not
the way to do it, in my view. Note
that computers can be programmed to
play a piano better than any human
can, and computers have no emotions--
that's why they can play so well.

And when one does this, he is never
in any danger of his playing being devoid
of emotion. We humans are emotional in
the extreme and it is a constant struggle
to rein in those emotions in order to
function in a civilized society.

This thing about your playing "lacking
feeling" by recital time is not correct,
in my view. This is simply the case
where you have not learned the piece
well because you have tried to use
emotion as the vehicle for learning,
which is going to hamper the learning
process severely.

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#408241 - 01/26/09 05:33 PM Re: Emotions and Expressing
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
_________________________
Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.

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#408242 - 01/26/09 05:38 PM Re: Emotions and Expressing
Arghhh Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/31/08
Posts: 1146
Gyro - does that mean that you prefer to listen to a digitally-generated (perfect mathematically)piece of music over a human-generated piece of music?

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#408243 - 01/26/09 06:06 PM Re: Emotions and Expressing
Mocheol Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/16/08
Posts: 527
Loc: Dublin, Ireland
Firediscovery,
May I suggest :

Technical mastery is but the prelude to true artistic expression.

Look at Vladimir Horowitz play this piece,or even Barenboim,you will hear they add something of their own unique interpretation.

They are able to do this because they have complete technical mastery and control of the work.

The Moonlight ,2n movement is easy to play but difficult to play well.

You are lucky to have arrived at technical competence ,its now a question of digging deep to discover the composers intentions
_________________________
vcz

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#408244 - 01/26/09 06:09 PM Re: Emotions and Expressing
sotto voce Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/15/06
Posts: 6163
Loc: Briarcliff Manor, NY, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Horowitzian:
[/b]
My favorite thing about that graemlin is unquestionably the animated flies buzzing about the horse's head. God is in the details!

Steven
_________________________

"There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats."
—Albert Schweitzer

Chopin: Allegro de Concert Op. 46
Schumann: Toccata Op. 7
Fauré: Ballade Op. 19

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#408245 - 01/26/09 06:09 PM Re: Emotions and Expressing
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
Also listen to Claudio Arrau's performance:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5vRRrhJdWg

It is a bit slow for many people, but it is the most profound performance of this piece I have come across. ;\)
_________________________
Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.

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#408246 - 01/26/09 06:11 PM Re: Emotions and Expressing
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
 Quote:
Originally posted by sotto voce:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Horowitzian:
[/b]
My favorite thing about that graemlin is unquestionably the animated flies buzzing about the horse's head. God is in the details!

Steven [/b]
;)

\:D
_________________________
Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.

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#408247 - 02/25/09 12:21 PM Re: Emotions and Expressing
fastscot Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/20/09
Posts: 13
Loc: So. California
Every time you play a piece don't just play the notes perfectly - focus on interpretation as well and think about what the composer intended. Your interpretation is your creative process. As a performer, if you do that well, the listener may experience an emotional response to the music which should be your goal. Your pleasure will come from the satisfaction of creating your own interpretation and the response from the listener.
Interpretation isn't a rigid technically correct or incorrect function and is likely to be subtly different each time you play the same piece.

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#408248 - 02/25/09 01:47 PM Re: Emotions and Expressing
Ridicolosamente Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/08/08
Posts: 1467
Loc: Miami, Florida, USA
 Quote:
Originally posted by firediscovery:
What can I do to retain the musical emotions when playing, or even listening to a piece? [/b]
Spend some time away from it; that's the simplest advice I have to offer. When planning to perform a piece, I try not to play it the day of, and would go longer without playing it before a performance if I could manage to feel prepared ahead of time... \:\)

I think in general overexposure to anything can cause an indifferent reaction. If I see a Chopin Ballade programmed (and many many more works by many composers are also on this list,) I think *yawn*... but every time I go months or years without hearing one of them, if I do experience a great recording or performance, it's an incredibly refreshing and humbling experience to be reminded of Chopin's masterful compositions. And of course this happens all the time.

 Quote:
Originally posted by Horowitzian:
Also listen to Claudio Arrau's performance:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5vRRrhJdWg

It is a bit slow for many people, but it is the most profound performance of this piece I have come across. ;\) [/b]
And yes, DO[/b] listen to Arrau's performance, so you know how to NOT[/b] play this piece. (Sorry buddy I couldn't resist... ;\) )

Good luck,
Daniel
_________________________
Currently working on:
-Dane Rudhyar's Stars from Pentagrams No 3

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#408249 - 02/25/09 02:00 PM Re: Emotions and Expressing
Horowitzian Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/08
Posts: 8453
\:D

Check out Kempff, too. Kempff is probably the best overall I've heard. He doesn't stop to smell the roses--much like Schiff--but unlike Schiff he weaves a touch of rubato in which makes it more interesting to listen to.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6txOvK-mAk
_________________________
Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear weapons.

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#408250 - 02/25/09 02:18 PM Re: Emotions and Expressing
Piano*Dad Offline
Yikes! 10000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/12/05
Posts: 10385
Loc: Williamsburg, VA
I must admit to some confusion about the original post. To tell you the truth, I don't know what it means to 'bring out all the emotions.' Those are 'fine words that butter no parsnips.' They don't really contain any meaningful direction for how to translate what's on the page to another human mind in a way that produces an emotional response.

Putting 'emotion' into the music involves 1) thinking through the score, 2) determining how your understanding of the musical 'ideas' needs to be translated into phrasing, dynamic control and shading, and subtle variation in tempi, and then 3) working very hard to make sure that your 'understanding' is repeatable whenever you sit at the piano.

Putting emotion into the music does NOT involve sitting at the piano and randomly changing the dynamics willy nilly, or adding rubato at random as the spirit moves you. That's not musicality. That's chaos.

As people have already noted, technical mastery of the bare notes is but one step, and it's not necessarily the first one. Musicality involves the hard work of thinking, planning AND executing a precise game plan.
_________________________
Grotrian 192 #156455

https://www.youtube.com/user/dhfeld/videos

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#408251 - 02/25/09 04:18 PM Re: Emotions and Expressing
tomasino Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/24/05
Posts: 2039
Loc: Minneapolis, Minnesota
What follows is a rewrite of something I wrote in another thread some time ago that pertains to the question of emotion:

“I believe that playing with emotion and with personal feeling is an important pursuit. But we are trained to work in the shadow of the composer's intent, and too often, in the shadow of our teacher's intent as well. How do we break this? How do we get at a personal and emotional approach to our music within the constraints of our classical music tradition? I have some ideas that seem to work for me.

Being a singer before a pianist, I found myself on stage when I was younger as a singing/actor. Having no knowledge of acting, I decided to minor in theater—and there I learned about “method” acting, ala Stanislovski.

An important facet of the “method” is “emotional recall.” It is a viable and time tested technique, by which actors deliberately access their heart, their inner muse, and their individuality.

Many actors can attest that by employing emotional recall, an actor will come up with new and different line readings, different characterizations, and different physical attitudes, than would ever have been achieved by simply reading off the page. I see no reason why this can’t be applied to piano playing as well.

Here’s how I suggest you might go about it?

But first, it is important to try this without a teacher's supervision. They too often have interpretive/emotional ideas that are specific to them, or to their teachers, or are the expectations of the larger musical community. It is very difficult to arrive at a personal reading, or a personal style, if you are hobbled by this kind of tutelage.

You should be technically proficient with the piece: but hopefully, learning the piece technically well hasn't left you with specific retards, voiceings, tempos, pedalings, and so on. If so, you may have to have to spend some time just getting rid of them.

So practice playing the piece wrong. Don't be afraid to do this. You'll be able to play it right again. It's not addictive. It's not like that first shot of heroin. It'll be OK. So go ahead. Play it wrong in every way imaginable. Play way too fast--twice or three times as fast; play it too slow; too loud: try wrong pedalings; play legato passages staccato and vice versa. Every time you come to a retard, play faster. Break your "correct" playing habits.

If you have done this thoroughly, you should be prepared for the emotions you feel to come through your own arms and hands and fingers.

Now try this: Think of various cameos, or vignetted experiences that are emotional to you, and that seem appropriate to whatever piece you're working on. They must be specific memories, according to Stanislavski. It isn’t enough to generalize your emotions, and to be merely sad or happy. You must think of sad or happy experiences, and let the experience lead you to the emotion.

Do this repeatedly away from the piano. Practice it just like scales. Nurse it along until you can get to the emotion quickly. It’s just like practicing a new fiingering. It seems clumsy at first. But practice it ten times a day for a week or so, and you will become very facile with the new fingering. So it is with emotional recall.

Now practice emotional recall as you're playing, and see what happens to your tempos and phrasing and touch. Like the actor coming up with a new line reading, I believe you'll come up with new phrasing, a different touch, and new tempos: a new approach that is both emotional and specific to you.

I'm currently working on Brahms intermezzo #2, opus 118. It is a piece well within my ability. I have no problem playing the notes and the pedaling: I can play it three times as fast as it ought to go, I can play it staccato or legato, and with the wrong voicing to boot. No problem.

This particular Brahms is thought of as "autumnal." Brahms seems to be looking back on his long life, on his successes, losses, Clara Schumann, perhaps. He seems to be composing from an emotional place.

But what about me? Remember, an interpretation, certainly if we allow a personal and emotional interpretation, is just as much about me as it is about Brahms.

So count me in. Like Brahms, I'm an older person too, 63, and I too have experienced a life of meaningful events. Specifically, the death of my father, mother, the divorce of my first wife, the death of my second, and I recently euthanized my fifteen year old dog.

So as I play the Brahms intermezzo, I deliberately think of events surrounding these people and my dog. I try to think as specifically as possible: good times--my dog chasing a stick or his tail, my father encouraging me to play piano, my wedding day. Bad times: a spat with my wife, my dog in arthritic pain--unable to chase a stick; the last conversation I had with my wife on her deathbed.

The point is not to generalize the emotion. "Feeling sad" is too general to fire your emotions. But remembering a specific emotional event will drive you to the emotions associated with the event.

Using Stanislovski’s Method Acting technique, and "emotional recall," I believe I have been coming up with more meaningful, more personal, and yes, more emotional readings of the Brahms intermezzo.

You may need to be tough, though. My teacher hasn't always liked what I have come up with, and I have had to stand up to him, and simply say "this is what I believe in, and this is the tempo I'm going to play it. I need you to help me play well from my own instincts and my own muse--not yours." He agreed to this, respected me for it, and together we have brought the music back into compliance with the doctrine of composer's intent, while still maintaining some of my own individuality.

This is worth a try for anyone who feels their playing isn't emotional, or isn't personal.

I feel that performing artists have every right to meld their own life experiences into a composition. The idea that composer's intent is all that matters is like playing in handcuffs. Expressive artists need to exercise all componants of their beings, and certainly, emotions are part of who we are; we need to exercise our emotions just as much as our intellect, just as much as our fingers."

Why should pianists leave what is meaningful about music to everyone else?

Tomasino
_________________________
"Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do so with all thy might." Ecclesiastes 9:10


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#408252 - 02/25/09 05:33 PM Re: Emotions and Expressing
Steve Chandler Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/05
Posts: 2758
Loc: Urbandale, Iowa
This was posted in another thread recently, but it bears directly on this discussion. It's Abdras Schiff's lecture on the entire Moonlight Sonata and it's interesting and useful.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fW_Dv_GNQAo&NR=1

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#408253 - 02/25/09 05:53 PM Re: Emotions and Expressing
NeNiRi Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/03/08
Posts: 57
Loc: Scotland
Quote-----It sounds as if you lack what it takes to be a performer if this is truly the case.

What an absolute toss pot you are!!!! Sounds like you need to work on you know exactly what it takes to be the best man!!! How do i salute you!!?


srry, rant!! but what a stupid comment
_________________________
----Any action or thought you have increases the probability that that thought or action will happen again----

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#408254 - 02/25/09 06:49 PM Re: Emotions and Expressing
Arghhh Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/31/08
Posts: 1146
Tomasino - great post!

I've found that it is difficult sometimes to find an emotional connection with a piece based on past memories. It is much easier to go to the music with what I am currently experiencing, and then the next time I play the piece it is much easier to recall in detail what I need to play it again.

Two days ago in fact I was having difficulty making music (as opposed to playing notes) on the second movement of my Haydn sonata. I had tried to come up with some way to connect to it but nothing worked or made sense. Then yesterday I was extremely frustrated because I was told I can't play for a vocal recital. The result when I went to practice was music. I put that frustration into my playing so now I have that specific experience to recall, and I know how to recapture that experience when I play the music.

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#408255 - 02/25/09 07:19 PM Re: Emotions and Expressing
Larisa Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/03/08
Posts: 498
Loc: Philadelphia
Tomasino - that is exactly what I do. I keep little vignettes in my head that correspond to the pieces I play, and think of them as I play, trying to recall the emotion. It can be a fairly simplistic image, but if it's got some emotional resonance, it works for this purpose. And yes, one does have to concentrate, and put oneself in the right frame of mind to be able to feel the emotion - it doesn't always come naturally. But when it does, it's magic.

It's amazing how well this works, by the way, even with beginners playing little five-finger pieces. When I had students, I would tell them to smile and think about something happy when they played a happy tune - and it sounded so much better that way.

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The 2 Most Common Questions Conundrum
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Heroic Polonaise help please...
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Maurizio Pollini at Carnegie Hall
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Steinway event
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Some Questions About "Piano Magic"
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10/21/14 10:58 AM
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