On Recording With Singers
audition tapes with singers you're a helping pair of hands, not the star of the
show. Great! Time to relax and not stress about every single note. Probably no-one
will pay attention to your brilliant background things, so why not just enjoy
yourself? There's just one tiny little 'but': if you ruin an otherwise glorious
recording with a cock-up, it could be the last recording you ever do. Either
because no-one wants to hire you anymore or because a soprano axe-murdered you.
I tend to
take recordings quite seriously. I want to play well and destroy as few takes
with wrong notes as I possibly can. So I play super carefully, which makes for
very boring music. It's so hard to relax and let the phrases flow when you're
mumbling Hail Marys on every jump and scale. Practice helps, I've heard, but
how can a pianist stop caring about wrong notes in this day and age? For all
the cds are perfect, aren't they? The recording you upload to youtube will be
there for all eternity. How much time is that for other pianists to hear it and
mock each of your wrong notes separately? (Because that's what we imagine
others do with their free time. Do we have proof? No. But we can almost hear
them laughing.) If it's a video, then all your funny faces, mannerisms and
technical problems will be there as well, haunting your dreams.
that leave us pianists? Looking fondly down from a high bridge before each
honest, all this is unimportant. You get nervous, but if you know your shit,
you'll be just fine. And it's music we're talking about here, not brain
surgery. The risks are small in the grand scheme of things. (If you avoid dark
alleys after twilight and practice well.) However, the underlying reason I want
to make every recording my best yet is that I love music. It's so obvious I
sometimes forget it's true. I really love what I do, and I love songs - how they
combine text, human voice and the richness of piano. I want to play these
pieces as well as they deserve to be played, so I can share with others this
monstrous, life-transcending gift we've been given that is music.
alone didn't lift your spirits, here's some practical tips:
- Do plan
and practice page-turns. Don't, and you'll die.
- If there are cuts, add color. I use huge bright red stars whenever I have to notice things.
- Don't show your fear to singers. They smell it, just like dogs.