It is no secret that in this crazy job of music making, many musicians base a concert’s success on how their level of individual playing. Yes, you can say the whole ensemble did well (or not), but there can be a self nagging urge after a concert to mentally relive a missed cue or wrong bowing. It’s the way musicians are; incredibly focused and detail oriented.
And even though it’s in the back of all of our minds why we play concerts and who we play them for, there are times it feels like our sole mission is to hit all the right notes, blend with the orchestra, and create a correct piece of art that the conductor will find acceptable.
All of that produces varying degrees of pressure, of course, there can be added pressures if critics are in the audience or the concert is a live broadcast. A newer concern is “Tweet Seats,” which is where orchestras set aside a specific seating section where patrons are allowed to use their Smartphones for posting live concert feedback through Twitter. It’s sort of a live, you should be here instead of reading this update, way to reach a new demographic.
Although I’m sure most of the tweets will by complimentary, @orchname cello section’s sound is like butter tonight #cellobutter, my mind runs amok with what might appear:
- @orchname trombonists missed their entrance #asleepbones
- @orchname guest conductor clearly upset with violas #conductorglares
- @orchname flute section not together at beginning of Mvt. 2 #flutefoul
A couple weeks ago I came across a blog that someone posted on the Columbus Symphony Facebook page. It wasn’t posted by the symphony, but by a fan.
The blog Itinerant Knitter, usually focusing on knitting and yarns, instead focused on newly acquired season tickets of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra. Reading this blog was not what I’d expected. Not only was I happy to read the enthusiasm to hear certain pieces in the season, excitement to hear new composers, but more importantly how the decision to buy season tickets came about.
“So, with good music in mind, I decided to forgo vanity for a while in exchange for season tickets. Thanks to not entering a salon for what seemed like ages (yeah, yeah, yeah – I’m a girl, ok?!), I now get to hear some fabulous music by great composers like Rossini, Beethoven, Berlioz, Brahms, Mozart and by a bunch more I’ve not even heard of, such as Rébel, Glinka, Berg, and Paulus.”
Usually, musicians get an idea of audience excitement after the performance but after reading the blog post, I was struck by the fact that this was one of the first times I’ve gauged pre-concert excitement (that wasn’t the orchestra’s own marketing copy!)
It’s incredibly refreshing that the blog’s author was compelled to share her excitement of the upcoming season. Now I find myself searching out similar entries and I can’t help but hope more people share their pre-concert expectations and excitements the way Itinerant Knitter did.
As a musician it is really nice to get positive feedback post-concert, but to get caught up in the pre-concert excitement helps me keep the who and why we have concerts in the front of my mind. Personally, this approach shifts my focus and keeps a more important balance at hand.
Of course I want to hit every note, catch every cue, and make an exceptional concert, but being allowed access into someone’s expectations and excitement truly gives a new dimension to my personal concert experience as a performer.
In the comments, someone had wondered if the conductor would permit knitters to knit during the concert. I loved the Itinerant Knitter’s reply:
My bag’s big enough to house the entire string section, so it’ll definitely have a couple of knitting projects. I’ve knit at baseball games before and always knit when I’m watching football or basketball. Hmm…I wonder if I can just pull out a sock project during halftime – oops – I mean, intermission! LOL!
Perhaps we should forgo the Twitter Seats and start some Knitter Seats.