This is a guest blog by the less than legendary, Louis C. Monteverdi
As a pianist performing regularly in front of live audiences (well, at least they claim to be), I still struggle with hand jitters, wrong notes, inaccurate rhythms and sudden sonorities of unknown origin.
While I know of no real remedies or telethon-type activities related to alleviating this aggravating affliction of unaccountable nerves, I can offer the following five tips in the hope that they may prove useful in times of classical piano’s annoying nuances.
TIP #1: Come Early Before the performance
Avoid increasing your stress level by leaving sufficient time for a preparatory period of relaxation. Relax, compose your thoughts and slowly exercise your fingers with unrelated abstract, technical studies till you have achieved a certain comfortable level of digital dexterity.
TIP #2: Completely Ignore Tip #1
Don’t come early, fool! That will only make you even more uptight by creating a misguided sense of importance about the whole stuffy business. Better to come a little late. Have a couple of smokes, a couple of beers. Too bad, if people get pissed off and decide to leave because it’s already 8:15PM. Screw ‘em! Keep repeating to yourself “Screw ‘em. It’s just not that important”. Relax; the whole thing’s just this side of being a complete waste of everybody’s time.
TIP #3: Disrespect the Composer. Does he think he’s better than you!!?
Screw Beethoven, the ugly son-of-a-bitch. Clearly, the guy was never successful enough to afford a facial or get a decent haircut. What’s that, lady, I was hitting wrong notes? What do you expect, the guy was frickin’ deaf when he wrote this damn thing! Give me a break!
TIP #4: Make Sure the Piano is in an acceptable State of Disrepair
Sure I’m nervous. Wouldn’t you be if you had to perform on this reject from a down-market Salvation Army post? I mean, I might have warmed up, but I ran out of time while I was Gorilla Gluing all the broken keys back on, for cryin’ out loud!
TIP #5 Just Go Play Cocktail Piano
Find a restaurant with a big room full of noisy people whose voices bounce off a carpet-less, slate floor, utterly drowning out the sound of your dwarf baby-grand with zero amplification. All that’s missing is a black cape and hood - and a Lone Ranger mask. Then you can be nervous all you want.