Thursday, February 28, 2008


I played the Piano at a small recital organised in my teacher's home last Sunday. My piece was a Sonatina in C Major (Opus 34, No. 1) written by Johann Anton André. The piece has two movements, a song like moderato followed by a lively Rondo. The event came at the end of slightly more than a year of lessons. Last year at a similar event I was a novice sitting with the audience marveling at the performances. This year it was my turn to get behind the keys.

Unfortunately for me two of my friends were in attendance in spite of my best efforts to prevent them from coming. When my turn came I found myself quite nervous to even approach the "stage", in this case the piano in the middle of the living room. This came as a surprise. I was a public speaker in college and in spite of my many faults have never had a case of stage fright. Playing a well rehearsed piece for 25 odd people should have been easy, but wasn't because I was very anxious about missing a note or phrase.

As it turned out I ended up making mistakes in a couple of places in the first movement. I did not die on the spot; on the contrary I began to relax after completing the first few lines. The second movement went fairly well even if I say so myself.

I don't recall much about the audience reaction. I do recall that my friends did not boo but then they were not experienced enough to have recognised my mistakes :) Tasty refreshments were served afterward but my body was awash in adrenalin for me to work up much of an appetite.

In retrospect the recital was a good experience. It made me realise the need for any student of music to periodically perform in a (semi-)public setting. I would like to be a part of more such events in the future. These need not even be on the same scale as my recital. A group of four or five would suffice. Perhaps these events can be arranged along the lines of the very useful "losers club" meetings I have attended. I can think of several advantages of such gatherings. Besides bolstering their confidence attendees also get valuable feedback. The "mini-recital" format would force all to focus on coming up with measurable output (play a piece) as opposed to talking about it ("I practiced for a total of 15 hours last month"). I am talking to a couple of musically inclined friends to see if we can come up with something worthwhile. Let me see how it works out.


Naomi Philippa said...

Manoj, your sudden and inexplicable "stage-fright" is not uncommon among musicians. When Radu Lupu was called out to play in the final round of the Leeds Piano Competition (which he won), he could not be located...he was in the bathroom! My theory teacher always said "music is a very demanding mistress" and only the completely devoted are able to get above their nervousness. That is why I prefer these student recitals to the fatal finality of a music exam! I was really pleased with your first performance...Well done and keep it up!

James said...

Yes well done Manoj. One thing you did not mention...was your teacher there as well?

James said...

OK Duh! ignore my last comment I saw it was in your teacher's house... really must learn to read

Manoj Govindan said...

@Naomi, James,

Thanks for your kind words!