Yigal Meltzer is principal trumpeter in the IPO and a member of the renown group Tempera. He gives master classes and coaching sessions regularly in Australia, Europe, South America and China and has often been on live TV broadcasts as a soloist. So we thought that although trumpet and piano are very different, being my brother, he could share some tips with us about performing for an audience.
Pianoways: What is the largest live audience you played for? How did that feel?
Yigal: I played the Haydn trumpet concerto with the IPO under Zubin Mehta in front of 12 thousand people in Buenos Aires in the summer of 2012. It was an Incredible feeling. Walking out on stage and seeing a full sports stadium gave me a huge boost of energy.
Pianoways: How do you prepare 5 minutes before going on stage to play a concerto?
Yigal: 5 minutes before the solo I like doing some breathing exercises, it's really helpful and I am sure it could be helpful for piano students too.
One sort of exercises is very soothing and relaxing for stabilizing and centering your energy, the kind of stuff you can learn from yoga. Other exercises are much more intense and really get you moving. For wind players I'm sure it's good but it's probably also good for piano players to do these exercises. It would be interesting to see how they influence pianists.
Pianoways: If something goes wrong during a performance, what do you tell yourself in order to keep going?
Yigal: I think one of the mistakes people do is they say to themselves: I'm going to play the best I've ever played. I'm going to be great. Your goal shouldn't be that. If it happens then that's very nice, but you want to play as usual and just do the usual things. Because if you say I'm going to be playing my best then you'll be doing something different. You want to do what you are used to doing.
You also have to expect that when you come out you're going to feel nervous. Sometimes players feel nervous and say oh no, I feel nervous and then they get more nervous . They say oh no, I feel even more nervous and then the cycle doesn't end. So you need to end it from the beginning and say: I'm going to feel nervous. You actually feel nervous and you say: fine, I accept that. Accept the nervousness with love, because these are things you can't do anything about. You can't do anything about your heart rate, or about being nervous if you know someone is listening to you, or if there's a video recording of some difficult and stressful situation like a competition or an audition. There's nothing you can do about feeling nervous in those situations but, there is a whole list of things you can do to find your center, so not to freak out. Remember what you need to do ,remind yourself what you have practiced and just go ahead and do it, even though you're nervous. It's a strange thing that with that approach, you actually play more musically. Because the music then comes out of a different place.
Pianoways: Do you play to your audience or pretend they are not there?
Yigal: I definitely don't ignore the audience. I think one of the mistakes people make is to ask themselves: what do I have to do in order to please the audience. I think the other way. I invite the audience to join in with me. I open myself to the audience and bring them to me, I want them to become a part of me and not, what do I have to do to be a part of them. So opening up and inviting the audience, that is what music is all about.
I would like to add one more thing. If someone thinks performing is like some kind of math formula you just need to figure out then I'm sorry to disappoint them. That's not how it goes. There's no other way but performing. The more you perform, obviously thinking the right thoughts and trying to practice the right way of doing it, the more you will improve. There are no short cuts. You have to actually perform many times.
Pianoways: Are there any books you can recommend on the subject?
Yigal: There is a very interesting book- the inner game of tennis. It's not very long, easy English and very helpful.
Pianoways: Thank you for sharing all this here!
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