third street music school concert hall

I rarely play recitals. Most of my concerts are symphonic, and occasionally, a third-party event with a chamber ensemble. But this past Friday the 13th I co-hosted one of the concerts as part of the faculty recital series at the school I teach 3 days a week: Third Street Music School Settlement in the East Village of NYC. My colleagues and I had a great time presenting character pieces of Spain and France of the late 19th & early 20th centuries. Some of my young students came and even brought some friends (and their parents) from outside of the school!

Here is the link to the REPLAY in case you’re interested: …Be sure to open in a browser (the Vimeo app is glitchy); Starts about 16 minutes in.

Sometimes when performing concerts throughout the year, things can feel a bit unfulfilling and make us musicians wonder why we continue to do what we do. A “typical gig” can go something like this: Learn the music as best as possible (usually in just 1-2 weeks’ time.. sometimes less), do a couple rehearsals, play the concert(s) the best you can in that moment, get paid, and leave.

This past Friday’s concert was nothing of the sort. It reminded me AGAIN why the audience is so important – they really do contribute a great deal to creating not only a unique experience, but also, they play a special role when it comes to bringing the music on stage “to life” and create a unique atmosphere in the hall that can never be replicated in the practice room. But even more important: It’s wonderful to learn when a performance has made a positive impact on someone’s life – whether it fired them up to practice or served as a temporary moment of distraction from the outside noise and/or inner turmoil.

Have you ever had the experience of “feeling the audience’s energy” from the stage? If so, how did it affect the concert and/or how you felt during the performance? Did you feel their energy change between the beginning and end of the concert?

As someone with a long history of performance anxiety, this is something I started paying more attention to as part of my goal of improving stage presence. This is very helpful especially if there are people in the audience I know. As a paradox, sometimes playing for people we know can be the scariest thing in the world. Based on the energy we feel coming in, we can make a choice: use it along for the ride or ignore it, re-center, and create something different to send back out. The goal is to create positive feedback loops.

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