Not going to lie, I almost forgot about a charity recital for the senior citizens this Sunday. A friend of my piano teacher’s organized the concert for Brittany Pointe Estates, a luxury retirement home, that just so happened to own a modest auditorium and a grand piano.
The weeks preceding the performance were filled with crazy events. There were Keystones, a Pennsylvania standardized exam, and a series of concerts. In the meanwhile, I organized a small jazz band with friends to play for small ensembles, which was a new experience for me. However, I had full awareness to the date of the concert at Brittany Pointe Estates. The days just slipped by so fast that the weekend got there before I knew it.
For once though, I felt like I had a purpose playing piano for others. Most of the time, I play in front of others either before a competition or after an award. This time, we performed as a charity event, sharing time and talent to entertain the retirees. While I may have reluctantly accepted this challenge, it’s one of the few times I completely agree with coming.
I was all for playing in this event, until I got there. Walking into the performance hall, I realized how unprepared I was. I’ve practiced the Prelude in G Minor Op. 23 No. 5 for a grand total of three days, which is not enough for any rhythmic song by Rachmaninoff. Luckily, it was still fresh in my mind from the small ensembles concert late last month. So I wasn’t going to forget the song… right?
Arriving in the auditorium, all the players tried out the piano on the stage, which was pretty good. I liked it. While I watched others warm up, I felt my mind freeze up. As I went through my practice run, I stumbled. Twice. This was bad. Be honest, I’ve never forgotten any notes to Rachmaninoff, since the memorization is pretty easy. It’s the difficult notes that got me.
However, for the first time in a while, I was blanking on some notes. So when the performance began, I scrambled and crammed. Every time I thought I got it down, some other memory slip would appear. Eventually I decided just to go with what I got, and like that I went on stage.
A quick bow and chair adjustment later, I sat in front of the piano, contemplating what to do. I took a deep breath and began, only to mess up on the third line. It was a minor blemish, but I do think that mistake saved the entire song. My teacher said I did a good job afterwards, and for the most part I thought I did. That single flaw may have been the reason why. It calmed my mind, allowing me to think clearly. Mistakes like that snap you into the moment, casting away unnecessary thought. Whether that is good or bad, I don’t know, because sometimes you shouldn’t think too hard about notes. But in this case, I let my fingers do the work, and my mind control dynamics and phrasing. It turned out well.
I do think this performance was a fluke, considering my preparation was essentially non-existent. This will probably be a lesson for a future concert, but as for right now, I’m quite grateful. Later on, when some of the audience congratulated me, I winked and smiled as a kind lady told me I looked like a man who “puts a lot of practice into his songs”. Oh, I wish I did.
This may have been the best time I’ve ever had playing in front of others. Here’s why. After the performance, the reaction to some of the audience was amazing. They thought we were all really good, but most of all, they actually seemed to enjoy it. Oftentimes, the audience is there because they have nothing else to do. While this may be true today as well, to those retirees this was one of the best performances, since stuff like this becomes a rarity. I may look at this recital and call it a drag, but to them, it’s the highlight of their day. And that made me feel good.
全体钢琴演员(All Pianists 06/09/2018)
钢琴陈老师(Mrs. Solaiman, Piano Director)
(S. Rachmaninoff's Prelude in G Minor Op. 23 No. 5)
宾州布列塔尼角养老院(Brittany Pointe Estates, PA)
布列塔尼角养老院·娱乐园(Game Court of Brittany Pointe Estates)
布列塔尼角养老院·休息室(Lounge of Brittany Pointe Estates)
布列塔尼角养老院·餐厅(Dinning Hall of Brittany Pointe Estates)
布列塔尼角养老院·会客厅(Guest Hall of Brittany Pointe Estates)
布列塔尼角养老院·图书馆(Libray of Brittany Pointe Estates)
布列塔尼角养老院·走廊(Hallway of Brittany Pointe Estates)