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Chicago Amateur Piano Competition 2012

Discussion in 'Useful resources' started by pianolady, May 15, 2011.

  1. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    I'm sure you'll be fine; your submissions always sound well-prepared and clean. Best of luck!
     
  2. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Thanks, Matthew and Andrew! :D

    One more day to go. I'm very nervous and pretty much scared to death (what was I thinking when I signed up for this... :roll: ). Well anyway, I know I'll survive, but it's just knowing what happens to my fingers when I get nervous. They shake so badly that they go all over the place and I have a hard time trying to control them , like make them land on the right notes. That's the part I hate! I love to play piano and I like to have others listen to the music I like to play, except I'm terrible in public. I know the music well, but I can't control my shaky fingers. I also have another little problem: I bought some new shoes to go with my new dress but the shoes fall off when I walk. I'm a little worried that one of them may fly off my foot when I'm walking to the piano and possible hit a camera or something. Actually, that would be a good thing - maybe I can knock out all the power . Then I can play in the dark! :D Hmm.... :idea: :lol:
     
  3. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    I don't know how much public performance you have done, but it can be a good idea to do mock concerts in front of friends. I also sometimes rehearse for a public concert by going to the piano, running through the programme and treating it as a performance - i.e. imagine that it is recital day, imagine that there is an audience there, dress as I would on the concert platform, and run through my pieces in exactly the planned order, no stopping for anything. Re the shoes: get an appropriately coloured and camouflaged tape to hold them in place? But do check that this doesn't affect your pedalling! (Tbh, if they aren't a great fit, I would check pedalling wearing them anyway.)
     
  4. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    I have not played in public nearly enough in order to gain confidence. That's my main problem. But I have been playing my piece in front of my family all this past week - almost every night. Just made them all sit on the couch and watch me play. That made me feel different when playing, so hopefully it helps a little. And my new shoes fit fine, except when I walk. They have a pretty high heel and I have been practicing while wearing them (pedaling). Also yesterday I had them on the whole time in order to break them in. According to my sons I looked very silly because I was walking around in high heels all day while wearing gym/workout shorts..... :lol:
     
  5. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Just accept that things will go wrong. Don't worry about it at all, just give it your best shot and when something happens keep the stony face and pretend it was written just like that. Good luck !
     
  6. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    No chance of me keeping a stony face - I seem to laugh at the most inappropriate times. But thank you! :)
     
  7. richard66

    richard66 Richard Willmer Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    I wish you the best of luck!
     
  8. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Probably best not to do that.
    The stony face was a tip from my former teacher. Whatever goes wrong, do not show any surprise or emotion, do not stop or correct, act as if nothing happened.
     
  9. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    I watched most of the first half. I thought you did very well; it would have been easy to be intimidated by the performance immediately prior to yours. Brava!
     
  10. rainer

    rainer New Member

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    Yes indeed. Well played, Monica! And an impressive stony face while playing, leaving the big smile until the end.
    Your fingers didn't shake and your shoes stayed on. What more can you ask for?

    After the first two competitors were sadly let down by nervousness-induced memory lapses, you had the good sense to use a score and a turner, even though you seemed to be playing it all from memory anyway. If nothing else, it's one less thing to worry about going wrong.

    Interesting to see some Mompou played, even if not by you. You'll have some up your sleeve for the next round.
     
  11. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Thank you, Richard, Andrew, and Rainer! And thanks for watching, Andrew and Rainer!!! :)

    I decided to bring my music up to the piano at the last minute. I heard other competitors say that they were going to do that, and so that's why I did it. And I am glad that I did!! I didn't look up at the music except for one or two seconds when I had a little stumble and looked up, found my place right away, and then kept going. If my music wasn't up on the stand, it could have been a disaster; I would have been floundering around trying to figure out how to keep going.

    And the reason I was able to keep a 'stony face' was that I got a headache right when I started playing - about 30 seconds into the piece. And I'm talking a very, very bad headache - like someone stuck a knife into my brain. My head was throbbing; I thought I was going to pass out at any minute. Never have I had a headache like that! I get normal ones once in a while, but this was different. Don't know what was going on, probably just stress or something, but I sure was glad I got to the end of the piece!!

    So that's it...tomorrow I go and get to sit in the audience the whole day and do nothing but relax and watch the other competitors. Ahhhh... :)

    p.s. Rainer...if...and that's a big IF I advance into the second round (HIGHLY DOUBTFUL!!), there is no Mompou on my list this time....
     
  12. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    I always take painkillers before going on stage. A concert grand fully open can make a lot more noise than you are used to when practicing, plus there is stage lighting to consider, to say nothing of stress.
     
  13. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Now you tell me! :) Oh well, another lesson learned so thanks for that, Andrew! Next time.... :wink:

    Also, I just found out that I did not advance into the semi-finals.
     
  14. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    That's a pity, but you do have to bear in mind that "amateur" contests aren't always 100% truly amateur. I had a chat with my teacher about this a few years back when I was contemplating playing in one, and he said that the definition of amateur for competition purposes tends to be along the lines of "does not earn a living from music performance or teaching" - he wasn't very flattering about this definition. The result of this is that you get some competitors who have gone through the full college/conservatory training system and emerged at the end to in effect be budding professionals, but who then change career and go and do something else for a living. Not wishing to detract from some of the fine playing I heard, but there were performers in your group who sounded professionally trained and whose resumés suggested they were in that category. I thought you should be very proud of your performance, especially when you've done little playing in public.
     
  15. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    True, a lot of these people are not amateurs by any reasonable definition, and a true amateur (one without years of professional training) doesn't stand a chance against them in a competition. It will be hard to draw a clear line of course. In any case it gives a good 'real' amateur the chance to perform in public and that is good.
     
  16. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Thank you for saying that last thing, Andrew. :) I still don't really know how I played because I have not seen the video; it's not up on the website site. I'm sure I'll hate it though. At least I can say that I listened to all the other competitors and I was not the worst one. And honestly I was a little surprised by a couple people who advanced into the semi-finals - I didn't think they were that good. Without naming names or pieces (which would give things away), one person played a Grieg piece that I know well except he/she slowed down drastically on the hard part. Another person played a Gershwin piece I know well but he/she missed a bunch of notes because of playing to fast. And another person, although he/she played the pieces nicely, they were relatively easy pieces. But those three people advanced anyway. I'm a bit discouraged, but nothing I can do about it. And out of the 63 competitors, 24 had formal training and have degrees in piano performance. I'm pretty sure many others do too, they just didn't put that information in their bios. One person I was talking to today said there is an amateur piano competition in Texas (I think) with the rule that competitors can hold no degrees in music whatsoever.

    Tomorrow I signed up to play in an impromptu recital - no judges in the audience, just the other competitors. Still a little nerve-wracking, but I don't think I'll get that 'knife-in-my-brain' headache again. ( :lol: I know, that sounds so dramatic, but it's an accurate description.... :lol: ). Also, I forgot to mention that I met up with another PS artist - Mark Hensley, who played very nicely. And Riley Tucker was actually in the audience when I played on Wednesday but I didn't know it. He and I are planning on meeting up again on Sunday; we're both hoping to rub elbows with some of the famous pianists that are in town for a piano festival in Symphony Center. I am going to bring my camera.... :wink:
     
  17. andrew

    andrew Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist

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    You were far from being the worst one. Of the dozen or so that I watched, they broadly fell into three groups - those who presumably were true amateurs, and sounded like amateurs; those who presumably also were true amateurs, but who played nicely and gave very acceptable presentations; and those who appeared formally trained and played in the manner one would expect of such a person. You were at the top end of the second group and as far as I'm concerned you were in the top half of those I watched. I think you chose wisely: you played music with which you were clearly comfortable and au fait, didn't fall into the trap of attempting something outlandish and having it go haywire, and you got a nice sound out of the piano. When something went slightly wrong, you covered it very well and if someone wasn't listening attentively they wouldn't have noticed. Re the judges' decision, I don't know what calibre they are, but it may well be that you know the pieces in question better than them and their judging is a bit superficial. And re formal training, as far as I'm concerned, if you've been to Juilliard or Curtis (etc), you're never an amateur: indeed you've had teaching that some pros would kill for.
     
  18. pianolady

    pianolady Monica Hart, Administrator Staff Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Yes, that's just it, several of the competitors had been to Juilliard or Curtis. The five judges were all highly respected heads of the piano division in area universities. They did have quite as huge job - listening and critiquing four full days worth of piano playing, but still makes you wonder about everything....

    Anyway, the competition is now over. Before it started, I told myself that I was never going to enter another competition, but now I am already thinking about what pieces to play for the next one! :lol: Aside from my nerves almost getting the better of me, it really is a great experience. And although I was aware of the three video cameras pointed at me, which was extra scary, I really basically forgot about them once I started to play. Again like at the last competition, I met some nice new friends from all around the world and it was fun to share 'piano stories' and our music with one another. I also came away with a list of some new piano pieces I heard being played by other competitors, so I can't wait to get back to my own piano and start learning some new stuff.

    Like I mentioned earlier, I met up with two PS members. The first is Mark Hensley. He's very nice and I watched him play Bach during his competition round and Beethoven in our "Loser's Recital" on Saturday. He's a good player and what was interesting to me is that he used a tablet on the piano for his music - the kind where you turn pages with a foot pedal. It's really neat.

    Yesterday I met up with Riley Tucker and boy did we have a great time together! He is also such a nice young man and I hope we can see each other again in the near future. We met outside of Orchestra Hall where a big piano festival was taking place (just a block away from where the amateur piano competition was being held). It was a free event and he and I went right down to the front and sat in the third row in the middle so we were only about 15 feet away from the piano(s) on stage. We watched Emmanuel Ax and Jorge Osorio play some wonderful music, but the highlight for me and I think Riley too was Marc-Andre Hamelin. He was amazing as ever! Really, I'm still in a state of awe from watching him play. And we were sitting so close to him too...very neat! The day before I was with another competitor/friend and we were goofing around on a piano and suddenly the comedy duo, Igudesman and Joo, walked right by us and then ten minutes later Marc-Andre Hamelin did too. Needless to say, I was shocked and simply stared at these people as they walked by (I believe I at least blurted out 'hi' to Igudesman and Joo, but not a word came out of my mouth when Hamelin walked by). But yesterday, the best thing was that during a break in the action, Riley and I decided to go get a bite to eat and there were not many people in the lobby as we walked through, but I caught site of Marc-Andre Hamelin standing there talking to someone and Riley and I were beside ourselves with excitement. We stood a little to the side wondering if we should approach him or even if we had the nerve to do so. Then the person MAH was talking to left and we sort of glided over towards MAH (that's how I felt, like we were floating on air...haha) and Riley took the lead and spoke with MAH and shook his hand and then I did too! Wow wow wow!! :D And I actually spoke in complete sentences for a change and he was very gracious and made of bit of small talk with Riley and me and then that was it. He went on his way and Riley and I about died from being so happy that we got a 'close encounter' with MAH. :) :)

    After that, Riley and I went to a nearby restaurant and then went to watch some of the final round of the amateur piano competition. We parted ways after that, Riley went back to Orchestra Hall, and I stayed with the competition people because there was a dinner afterwards for everybody.

    Here are few photos of Riley and me at Symphony Center and also a couple photos of Mark Hensley.
     
  19. musical-md

    musical-md Active Member Piano Society Artist Trusted Member

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    Monica,
    I'm very happy for your experience and proud for all of us that you participated. I hope we'll allways have some American from PS participating in this competition. I appreciate your fine narrative too. I have to find that link now so I can watch some playing!

    Eddy
     
  20. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    That's a great thing when PS members can meet up and even shake hands with someone like MAH. Jealous now.... There's a similar amateur competition in Paris, but I've not so far considered going there.
     

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