Saturday, April 26, 2008


Today is the recital in which I accompany the violin in the Beethoven Spring Sonata, 1st movement. Last night was the violinist's last lesson before the recital. We ran through the Beethoven once, which was quite dreadful--you know when you play something perfectly at home and then mess it up every single time at the rehearsal?

At any rate, the violin teacher then turned to me and said, "Have you had a chance to look at the Mozart?"

I'd been given the music six days ago, and aside from when all 20-something pages fell off the piano and I had to pick them up, I hadn't even glanced at it.

"Not very much," I said. I've found it's best to never admit to no practice. I frequently used to not practice the horn, and felt wickedly delighted one day in college when I sightread during my lesson, only to have my teacher compliment me because he could tell I'd worked on the piece. Oh, evil...

"Well, let's give it a try," she said. Then, turning to the violinist, "I want you to hear what it sounds like with a piano."

Great, I thought. Sightreading in a lesson again. I thought I'd moved beyond this point in my life.

The happy news is that it turns out Mozart is easier to sightread than Beethoven. I would say Mozart is easier to play, but I haven't really worked on it beyond the couple pages we did, so I don't know for sure.

The sad news is that the violinist hadn't looked at his music either, and doesn't have a very spectacular natural ability for counting. Eighth notes became sixteenths, sixteenths became eighths and were repeated if he missed one, and any rest other than a quarter was ignored completely. Those elements together make for very creative accompanying.

We "ran through" those pages about three times before returning to the Beethoven, and when we did I enjoyed playing the familiar notes again, even though I still messed up on the runs. But even if I miss in today's performance it will be okay--as an accompanist I'm learning how to cover flubs better than I ever have before. I've discovered that most audience members listen primarily to the soloist, and if the accompanist plays something within the harmonic family that resembles accompaniment, no one really cares.

The end.


schmath said...

Last week in church, I had to accompany a difficult song, so I just made stuff up and only played about half of the notes. I figured, why should I put in several hours when it's the singers' fault for picking the song and only giving me a week's notice? Plus, who's going to notice? I've become so bitter about accompanying. People pick such hard music, not realizing that perfecting the accompaniment to a church song is the least satisfying way I could spend my time, and that in real life, people pay people to accompany them. It turned out that no one would have even noticed if I messed up because the singers were really loud and out of tune. For once, it wasn't me who was out of tune!

Sorry that was long. I had to vent. I agree that Mozart is way easier than Beethoven.

ol' Bob said...

Mozart is easier to spell, too.

elegyrl said...

I heard you practicing.... and it was beautiful! I am sure you were just as wonderful during the actual recital! I am always amazed by your talents and your humilty about them! Oh and thanks for playing piano in RS today!

J said...

Remember when I came to a practice room with you in the HFAC. And I stood on a chair and danced while you played music and all the other people in the other practice rooms could see me dancing through the little window?

Betty Edit said...

Schmath--that's fantastic. I agree. I hope you feel better. :o)

j--actually I have no recollection whatsoever of that event. Are you sure it wasn't schmath?