The Performance Chair
In my studio, we have a chair which is the Performance Chair. It’s a chair that was given to me from my mother in law when she moved to her new retirement home. It is green with a puffy velour covering and has beautiful woodwork and carving on it. It looks kind of like a throne.
Why such a fuss over just a chair? Well, probably the hardest thing a young pianist ever has to do is perform in public. Performing is something that only gets easier by performing often. And it is hard to find places to perform. So we practise performing. We practise performing at our group lessons, and in masterclasses and in front of the “Performance Chair”
I tell my student the week before their next lesson, that it will include performance time. They come in, announce their piece and practise performing while I am sitting in that Performance Chair. There is so much more to performing than just playing the piece from start to finish. There is the announcing, adjusting the seat, settling oneself before starting, thinking about the first line of music, getting “in the mood”, performing without stopping (even when there are slips), getting to the end without re-starting, then the finishing notes, waiting for the final note to sound and ending with hands on lap, allowing one to totally enjoy the experience, before standing up and turning around to face the “audience” then bowing. This is what is practised when I’m in the Performance Chair. I listen to the full piece without any corrections, and advice. Then after it’s over, we talk about the good parts and the wonderful sounds produced..then we work on the parts that need extra attention. It’s a great way to get ready for the real thing and it really does make a difference at Recital and Festival time.