Connecting to the Audiences

In the past few weeks, I have been preparing for several performances, putting together program notes, rehearsing and teaching quite a bit. As I prepare for this upcoming events, I often question myself, “Should I talk about the pieces I am going to play?” I think it’s important for the audience to know a little about the work so they will be able to connect with the performer, giving of course the appropriate circumstances of the performance. I usually like to prepare program notes with insights about the piece and/or the composer and whenever necessary, in addition to talking and adding a few other thoughts that weren’t mentioned in the program.

So, today I encountered a very interesting article that explains why it’s important for classical musicians to talk to their audiences. If  popular musicians do it all the time, why does classical music have to be different? Why does it have to set itself apart? At the end, it’s all about sharing ideas, experiences and entertaining other people.

We in the classical music world need to learn how to talk to audiences for two reasons:

1. It helps you connect with those who have come to see your performance. Let’s face it, the traditional concert situation is more than a little awkward these days, with a room full of audience members who may be largely uncomfortable with the experience of going to see music live and, to make matters worse, keep quiet all the way through. They often feel like they’re supposed to merely observe, although they’re not certain what they’re supposed to appreciate. When you speak to them, you can break through that distance right away, and if they find you engaging, you can start the process of winning them over before you’ve even played a note.

2. Audiences for the most part really, really want to like classical music, to understand and appreciate it. But since it’s not a part of current popular culture, many people feel a kind of distance between themselves and the music, and perhaps more than just a little intimidated around the high culture that allegedly goes with it. Finding the right tone and words to introduce a work of music (preferably without sounding the slightest bit high-minded) can reassure the audience that they may just have the ability to appreciate the music on your program and want to look further into the world of experience that classical music can provide.

Regarding what you’re actually going to say, it’s always best to find the words that come from a place of genuine connection rather than what you feel you’re supposed to say. It might even be a worthwhile idea to talk about your own personal journey and how as a performer you connect with the music you’re about to play rather than throwing around complex musical terminology. Try it. Your audiences will thank you.

Click here to read the full article: “Why Talking To Audiences Is Essential When Playing Classical Music”


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