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. Thanks Joie! A glass of wine later, and I'm feeling pretty happy
    about it. Tonight reminded me of my first seminar that I had to
    give in graduate school at Carolina. In a room full of people,
    the 1st slide came up and I froze — for about the 30 longest seconds
    of my life!! I got through that though then, and have honed that
    skill too over time. I just had NO IDEA how nervous I would get
    when the time actually came tonight… thank goodness I hadn't drank a
    lot! :)

  2. Hapa — Gracias! What's that old expression — the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing? Maybe that's a good thing when playing the piano! I had been emailing with an old friend the other week who used to play the trombone — we began wondering if there were any trombone-piano duets … now, I wonder if there are any trombone, bass clarinet, piano trios??? (Aside: is the trombone cooler than the bass clarinet??) The technical stuff we're doing right now for class is a lot of hands crossing-over-at-different-times sort of stuff — I have to go verrrrrry sllllooowwwllly — the folks that can rattle up and down the octaves are really impressive!

  3. Wow. You know, I'm sure there are trombone-bass clarinet-piano trios. There were a lot of wacky composers. I think those instruments would sound nice together. :) Perhaps a fugue. Oh – and is the trombone cooler than the bass clarinet? I'm not sure. But part of the reason it was dorky that I played the bass clarinet, was that it was about as large as me. Which looked really funny when I was in marching band. Good thing I embrace my dorkiness, I guess. ha.

  4. One of the beauties of performing music is that most times, only you know you are screwing something up. all that adrenaline and nervousness is what gets you addicted to performance and if you were ever to stop playing piano, is probably what you will miss. i have done a good bit of musical performance (group and solo) and found that as long as I felt prepared and confident, I would always pull through. Most people are so enamored with your ability that they won't notice your mistakes or nervousness! I can remember my teachers would stop me in the middle, try to disrupt me, and expect me to continue through distractions, in rhythm. I could do this on all instruments but the piano, which I always had a hard time with…oh…and I don't know if they have the PBS Piano guy show out there, but you should check it out!Hang in there!

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