Editor’s Note: This diary entry is the thirtieth in a series of entries describing Teresa Dybvig’s strategies for preparing for an upcoming recital after a long break from performing. Keep posted for further installments. For more about The Well-Balanced Pianist, click on this link: http://www.wellbalancedpianist.com/
Tueday, October 28: gifts that performers give audiences
One of my goals in these final two weeks of recital preparation is to remind myself what is important about playing for people. Today I’m reminding myself of the gifts that performers bring to audiences.
I recently spent a couple of years reading up on research about the effect performing has on audiences. Today I reviewed my notes. You can find a lot about these effects if you look for it! I even found one study that showed that people who listen to performances of complex music on a regular basis even live longer – their “real age” was four years younger than others of their year-age, or however they describe it. Medical research shows that music has been shown to ameliorate effects of autoimmune diseases and relieve depression. Reports of friends who attend performances, or notes that friends have received after their performances, are also inspiring. People told me about experiencing complete relief from pain of grief while listening to musicians perform, or initiating reconciliations with loved ones after hearing love expressed in music.
And a performance does not need to be perfect to give a gift to a listener. In one book I read an account of someone who turned around his life because he saw someone sing in public who wasn’t afraid to make a fool of himself. People are inspired to follow their own passions when they see that others can trip up, and still live to tell.
The beauty of it, for the performer, is that we can give these gifts to people just by living out our relationship with the music. We don’t need to know that someone in the audience needs solace from grief, or relief from depression, or inspiration from people stumbling a bit. I figure that I can provide slip-ups with no preparation whatsoever! The rest will happen naturally, as a result of my preparation, love for the music, and desire to communicate it.
But only if I allow it. Mindset is huge. That’s why today I’m thinking about those gifts performers give audiences.
Teresa Dybvig is founder and director of The Well-Balanced Pianist, an organization which presents programs across North America based on an integrated approach to teaching, learning, and performing. Previously on the faculty of the Taubman and Golandsky Institutes, Dr. Dybvig now teaches privately in Long Island, Manhattan, Chicago, and Denver. She specializes in helping pianists with playing-related injuries.