A recent flute studio topic has been the concept of the performance process: 1. We prepare a work or works through in-depth study and preparation, imparting an interpretation based on skills and the intimate knowledge of a piece we've developed through deep investment (right?!), 2. We deliver it - we perform it for the audience, 3. The audience receives it . . . and then what? Is the process complete?
This brings to mind the old question of a tree falling in the forest....if no one attends the recital, will the performance matter, will it still be a true performance? What is at the heart of why we perform - to motivate us to produce a higher level of understanding and knowledge of a piece, to improve our skills....or to communicate, to connect with others? While I acknowledge I always learn so much through this process, I find the importance of sharing the music with the audience the greatest motivating factor. So - let's assume that this is our given, or where the performance process begins.
OK. so we have where this all starts. If the intention is to communicate, then let's consider that the audience has a responsibility as well. That may surprise you, but in order to fully receive this gift we must be completely engaged in the process and arrive at appreciation. I believe this is one of the best ways to celebrate live music, and possibly the only way to realistically preserve our field. This concept is particularly true for musicians: as an audience member, we hopefully keep an open mind and heart as we delve into this new world of repertoire, playing styles, and whatever the performers share with us that day. With this in mind I propose an additional step in the performance process: expressed appreciation, or acknowledgement of receiving the gift shared with us for that performance.
It takes just a few minutes, but continuing the cycle of communication has great meaning: greet the performer, ask a question, and thank them for sharing their time and ideas. These easy actions complete the cycle, keep the entire process authentically human, are excellent ways of learning new things and even networking, and remind us to appreciate this great gift we have in our lives - music....and the abilities to make, enjoy, experience, understand, and be moved by music. What an amazing human experience!
Back to the tree...if you play an incredible run-through of your recital piece right now, and no one is there to hear it....well, that's certainly an accomplishment, and one that needs to happen. But how much more powerful is that experience before an audience? Would it make a difference to you if no one acknowledged that gift you've shared with them? It just takes a few minutes...