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Tips, Tricks and Road Stories


Tips for Performing a Concerto

April 13, 2012; Leslie Bazzano

Congratulations! You have been asked to perform a concerto...Now what? It is one of the most-daunting tasks of a musician, but can be the most-rewarding experience. No doubt by this time you have performed with several groups and have performed many solo pieces, but a concerto is different. It requires special interpretation, endurance, skill and team work. The following are tips for performing a concerto. When you are finished performing yours, you will undoubtedly have your own tips to pass on.

1. Mind your teacher, listen to the pros, and remember that the conductor is king.
When preparing a concerto, it is extremely helpful to have a teacher; chances are, your teacher has performed that particular concerto and certainly has vast performance experience. Your teacher will have his or her opinions on interpretation, phrasing and other aspects of that specific concerto. While you should listen to your teacher, do not forget the pros who have also performed the piece; the more performances/interpretations you are exposed to, the better. Most importantly, listen to your conductor. If the conductor's instruction clashes with your teachers, bring it up to your teacher, but remember who will be directing the performance.

2. Endurance training is essential!
Most concerti have three movements and they each require interpretation and emotions. It is difficult to imagine the endurance it takes to perform a concerto until you actually begin studying the music. Add the audience and the stress that accompanies the actual performance and you will be thankful during the concert that you added endurance training to your practice. Your teacher will help you with that, but be sure to practice breathing and phrasing in rehearsals, taking into account the pressure of the performance.

3. You are the performer, but you are still part of a team. While the concerto is all about you, consider the rest of the orchestra. Paying attention to the conductor and listening to cues from the rest of the orchestra will greatly reduce the stress during the concert. If your concerto is for more than one instrument, rehearsals with the other concerto performers (and their teachers!) will reward all of you.

4. Relax. An important part of learning the music, interpretation, phrasing and technique of the concerto is that you will be able to "forget" to simply play music during the concert. When you are in rehearsal and find yourself a part of the music and not thinking about what you have learned, but you are within the music itself, you are ready to perform. You may find yourself enjoying your instrument and music as never before. You may find yourself sad when the performance is over, and looking forward to the next opportunity to perform a concerto.

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