Halloween Mid-term Piano Horror Show

Well, tonight was my mid-term for the piano class that I'm taking.  We had to choose two pieces to play — one had to be memorized, the other we could read from sheet-music.  We would have to play our pieces in front of the entire class.

I had chosen a version of "Ode to Joy" that I really liked, and because our class was falling on Halloween, I chose a piece called "Midnight Shadows" which is supposed to be played "mysteriously" and sounds spooky.

I got to campus a few minutes early and had a chance to run through the pieces alone — no problem.  Each sounded good — I was pleased.  The class was moved out of our normal classroom (which has a bunch of digital pianos) into one room with one big old baby grand right in the middle.  Right about then, my blood-pressure sky-rocketed and my hands went cold as ice.

So — I give scientific presentations in front of people, sometimes lots of people,  all the time.  No biggie.  You'd think this wouldn't bother me a bit, right?  I had been counseled by a friend to go early — b/c nerves will only build with each successive performance.  So I ended up going third (of about 10 students — out of an original ~25 — we've had a LOT of drops!).

"Ode" went really well — about as well as I've been able to play it.  And I liked the way the heavier keys played on the grand.  And then about 1/3 of the way through "Shadows" my hands started shaking.  "Are you #$^&ing kidding me?"  went through my mind.  Right near the end, I missed a couple of notes (b/c my right hand could've turned cream into butter, I'm pretty sure…), but I got it under control enough to finish it off.

So, loved the first one and survived the second.  The teacher had said he won't take off b/c of nerves, so we'll see what happens.

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5 thoughts on “Halloween Mid-term Piano Horror Show

  1. Hooray for you! Someone once said in a music seminar that to practice with the feeling you have during a performance, run around the building once or twice. So true! No matter how much you practice something, in a performance setting your hands will shake, your heart will race, and your bladder will feel dangerously close to emptying itself into your pants. =P All that fun adrenaline and nervousness working against you means you should feel proud for even successfully getting through it… and that you did well, well hey… so much the better!

  2. Congrats on playing on through! In high school I used to play bass clarinet (can it get any dorkier?), and I had a solo piece worked out beautifully. It was sublime. And then, I played in front of a judge. I had that same shaky hand thing. I missed part of my solo getting off track with the piano accompaniment, but got back into the piece once I found where I was… and the judge applauded me for that. So anyway, congrats on finishing and it sounds like you did very well anyway. I've never understood how piano players can memorize so much music… left hand and right hand… there's so much going on at once!

  3. When I moved back to California (I'm a bit of a nomad myself), I started looking for piano classes. I should start again soon, I suppose. It'd take the edge off things. However, I can't find any! I live in Ojai, a town that's supposed to be inhabited by people who are wildly artistic, but…no…piano lessons. Anyway, I'm sure you did fine (and I'm curious to hear what Midnight Shadows sounds like). And yes, the keys on a grand feel quite lovely.

  4. Naamah— thank goodness for the San Diego Community College system. Best $40 I've spent in a long while. In theory — I can record midi's from my digital piano. Though I must confess I have no idea how to export them. Maybe I'll plink-plunk around tonight and see if I can save it somehow. Can a CD deal be far behind?!?! :p

  5. The Piano Guy takes a song and breaks it down to its simplest form and shows you how to embellish on the chords and melody. He is more about playing piano from a lead sheet (melody with chords). But, I am always fascinated by anyone teaching me how to play a piano because you can always learn from them. The episode I saw was showing how to play Battle Hymn of the Republic. Good luck!Just did a quick search:http://www.scotthouston.com/pianoguyseries.htmlHis name is Scott Houston.

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