I was one of the lucky ones. I had music teachers very early on, and grew up in the home of a music educator who was a high calibre performer herself. Those music teachers taught me the importance of learning well for public performance, and here are a few of the favorites.
Lesson #1 – Take small bites.
Don’t try to manage too much at once. Assess and accept, and keep working patiently.
Lesson #2 – Get it Right.
Ability is determined in the practice room, if you are willing to stay long enough to only get it right.
Lesson #3 – Be efficient and adaptable.
Yeah, that might count as two, but they are related and worth putting together. If a struggle is encountered, then figure out how to learn it as well and as quickly as possible. Make a game of it, work it into the muscle memory, and eliminate doubt.
Lesson #4 – Trust
Trust in the preparation – and make sure you did enough of it.
Lesson #5 – Don’t sweat the small stuff.
The more amplified the success and failure, the harder life is. Sometimes, for whatever reason, performance can be better or worse than usual. Cool it and keep perspective.
What a great musical year it is shaping up to be. I’m going back and forth across the country several times this year, which will add come challenging elements to my life to be sure. In addition to my musical life in Montreal with St. Matthias and Ensemble Bellechose, I’ll be guest conducting at the Winnipeg Symphony New Music Festival, and we’ve expanded Polycoro’s season to two programs and three concerts. There will be more details in about a week I think about something else that is on the way. Until then I’ll leave you in suspense about another major concert on the horizon. Suffice to say, guest conducting is a very good thing.
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Here is one of my favorite pieces from the choral literature – I Love the Lord by Jonathan Harvey. This is a performance from 2011 with a great pickup choir that came together for my masters degree recital. It was a very stressful but exciting experience. These singers were outstanding to work with; many very good friends. This recital happened at St. Matthias Church, which made it extra special. There are parishioners in the audience, and my priest at that time Ken Near with his wife Karen.