Monday, January 28, 2013

Faculty Post - Mike Eckerty - Balancing Act

Balancing Act


This week's blog post comes from Assistant Professor of Music, Dr. Michael Eckerty.

The music student (and teacher’s) schedule rarely gets simpler as the school year progresses. Whether it is assignments, lessons, concerts, blog posts, and yes recitals, time continues to press on and we must balance our tasks. I find myself in the midst of preparing for a recital at the same time that I am preparing a student for one and I think this might be a good time to remind myself, my students, and any interested parties on some strategies to remain sane and yes, get the recital prepared. As a disclaimer, I have found in music that many times there is more than one way to do something, but the following certainly have worked for me!

These things may seem basic, but they are important:
  • Do not stay up all night cramming your practice. If you do not know it, it is doubtful that making yourself exhausted will help. 
  • Next, if you do not have an 8am class, you do now - it’s called practice. I understand that vocalists may not be able to adequately sing this early, but instrumentalists can perform early and their mind will be fresh. Vocalists can get up and do your homework at this hour, leaving prime practice time open for later. 
  • A teacher I respect often suggested that I play through the recital every day starting a month prior to the performance. This run-through is not a time to fix notes or memorize your music. It is a time to get your endurance and timing together. Take notes and come back later to work on the places you need to. You probably have enough things on your plate that you should only be practicing the things that need it anyway. 
  • In addition, if you need a practice break, perhaps you can write your program notes early. It might even make you understand your music better. (I must admit, that I enjoy sitting next to other teachers and discussing how bad and erroneous some of your program notes are, however, for your own sake these should be fixed).
Next, don’t neglect your other duties. The performer who decides to allow a recital to delay completion of their homework may not like the ramification on their grade point average. In addition, something else will always come up when you put things off. Your duties also include sleeping regularly, eating food, socializing with your friends, and doing activities that cleanse and refocus your mind. All of life must be a balancing act. Preparing for your recital is no different.

Finally, you are training to be a professional musician and recitals are one of most important things we do. Is it that big of a deal to stress yourself to the point of ulcers? It’s a recital, and as such use this experience to learn how to handle the stress and joys concurrently in a way that produces a positive result for both you and the audience. THAT is the point! I don’t know about you, but I do not want to be sitting in an airplane with a pilot who is stressing every time they have to land the plane. I know that it is their job and that they will perform the task. Hopefully they care about how well they do it, but if it is a big scary deal for them, I am taking the train.

...By the way. Why are you still reading this? Go practice...

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