Performance Preparation (Part III)
These are a few of the questions you will ask yourself as you approach the year ahead and the music
performances you will be participating in.
Preparing for a performance: There are three areas that need to be considered in preparing for a
performance: the physical, the mental, and the emotional or affective.
III. Emotional (affective) preparation
So, you have the notes and rhythms and phrasing down. You have the style and dynamics under control.
But how do you prepare for the affective,
the emotional communication?
When we play music, we are trying to communicate
and express the intangible. This applies to everyone who picks up an instrument and performs in front of
an audience. It applies because music is not just
about the notes and marks on the page; it is a living, dynamic, exciting expression that is as individual
and complex as you are.
The performer has a responsibility to bring out
the passion of the music in a performance. Both performer and audience will get only as much from
a performance as the performer has chosen to put
into the preparation, physical, mental and affective.
Preparing for the intangible:
There is more to preparation than the physical
aspects that we discussed above. You need to
develop an understanding of the intent of the composer. Start your research on the composer
and the work early in your preparation period.
Think about the style that is required. Is it a song? Should it be smooth and lyrical, or metrical and
more like a dance? Experiment with playing the
same phrase in different ways to bring the right
quality to your sound.
What emotion are you attempting to communicate
to the listener? Think about the emotional
development of the piece. Find the moment of
absolute intensity in your piece (the climax).
Determine how you reached that moment and
how long it lasts. Then find the lowest level of
intensity in the piece. Compare the beginning of
each section with these moments. How do they fit in? How is intensity achieved in each section?
Draw a diagram of the development of intensity
within each section and across the whole piece.
Use broad sweeps of lines to trace it rather than
a detailed diagram.
The most effective way to achieve the emotional
intent of the music is by playing each section and movement differently, until you find the most
effective way for you. It might not be the same for every performer, and this opens up the path for individual interpretation in music. Just remember
that physical and emotional interpretation rely on
a depth of knowledge of the music.