Tag Archives: performance

Stress, sleep, and performance

 Any musician who performs has been in the position of having to play a concert with too little sleep.  We may be traveling and don’t sleep well in hotels.  Or perhaps a Tiredperforming opportunity has popped up unexpectedly and the only way to have the music learned and memorized is to work well into the night. Students are known to cut sleep in order to try to accommodate all of the other demands of university life.  Occasionally sleep-deprived performances are unexpectedly good. More than one pianist has told me that because she was so tired, the critical, judgmental voice in her head that often monitors performances was less active and she more easily entered a flow state.  But more likely, we musicians don’t talk about the performances that didn’t go well when the reason was lack of sleep.   Continue reading

What you see is what you hear: mirror neurons and music, part VI

Robert Schumann wrote in a review of a Franz Liszt concert in Dresden in 1840: “It is unlikely that any other artist, excepting only Paganini, has the power to lift, carry and deposit an Liszt_at_the_Pianoaudience in such high degree. . . In a matter of seconds we have been exposed to tenderness, daring, fragrance and madness. The instrument glows and sparkles under the hands of its master. . .It simply has to be heard – and seen. If Liszt were to play behind the scenes a considerable portion of poetry would be lost.” (Schumann on Music, trans. and ed. by Henry Pleasants) Continue reading

Why Am I Doing This?

OuzerMy favorite photography collection is Contemporary Musicians in Photographs by Louis Ouzer.  This 1979 Dover publication contains 119 photos of some of the world’s most famous musicians, from Rubinstein to Ellington, taken at the Eastman School of Music between 1940 and 1979.  Ouzer, whose studio was a few doors down the street from Eastman, was a sort of “unofficial” photographer at the school for several decades.   He captured the artists in unguarded moments – rehearsing, teaching, talking, thinking.  Many of the photos were taken in the reflective moments just before the artist walked onstage for a performance.  Continue reading