Student Life Editor
Performing any fine art is difficult and requires rigorous training. The performing art of music is no exception, but what sets it apart from other fine arts is that it is meant to be performed for an audience. Singing in the shower is relaxing and fun for a lot of people, but singing in front of an audience can be absolutely terrifying. A part of the curriculum at TJC for all music majors is a solo public performance once per semester. That means the students must perform a piece of music alone on a stage in front of a live audience. You can also check my blog if you need some guidance in that direction.
“It can be a very nerve-racking experience, but … it gives them the confidence that they need to be a performer, to be up in front of an audience. Music is not meant to be personal; just kept to yourself,” said Department Chair of Music Jeanie Oxler. “Music is meant to be expressed to an audience. This is just another step in their preparation to be able to perform in front of a live audience.”
For many of the students, the recitals will be the first time they have done a solo performance in front of an auditorium full of people. The experience is traumatic for some of the amateur musicians. Brittany Bourgeois is a music major and has been playing the euphonium for the last eight years. Bourgeois performed in her first recital at TJC last semester. The experience was a test of overcoming fear and adversity.
“I’m very shy player, so it’s probably one the hardest things I’ve ever done,” said Bourgeois
Two weeks before the recital, Bourgeois’ instructor told her that she was to perform. While playing for her instructor, the thought of performing in front of so many people became overwhelming, and she broke down in tears on the spot. In preparation for the recital, Bourgeois began to practice in front her classmates and imagine they were the audience.
Bourgeois was so nervous that she does not remember much of what went on during her performance.
“I don’t actually remember performing. I remember listening to my heels click because my leg was shaking involuntarily,” said Bourgeois
After the performance, Bourgeois was in tears because she felt that she played poorly. Despite her feelings, the feedback from her peers was positive. She says the experience made her a better musician and helped her move out of her comfort zone. Not only has it improved her musical talent but also her character.
“You have to expand who you are,” said Bourgeois
This semester, Bourgeois will perform in her second recital. The piece of music she will play is more challenging, but she feels confident this time.
“I’m still pretty nervous, but I think it will be a lot easier than last semester,’ said Bourgeois
It is important that the students are able to perform with precision, because if one musician in an ensemble is playing poorly, it makes the rest of the musicians look bad. The scrutiny of solo recitals encourages students to focus on improving individual skill and technique
“[The recital] forces the students to spend an amount of time preparing at a high level that they’re not accustomed to… If they know that they have to stand up in front of a hundred of their peers, who know how to read music, who know what sounds good and doesn’t sound good and all that … It gives an inherent desire to do well,” said Jeremy Strickland, director of bands.
According to Strickland, an hour or two of practice every day is recommended for recital preparation. At any given time, several musicians can be found in the band hall, diligently studying music pieces and comparing technique. Despite all the practice and preparation, some students may make mistakes during their performances.
“The thing about it is, especially with the younger students, the freshmen, when they get up there, they’re going to make mistakes, so one of the things we want to see is how quickly you recover,” said Strickland.
The individual performances are judged based on poise, stage etiquette, preparation, dynamics articulation and musicality.
Recitals are held Fridays at 1 p.m. and are open to the public. They are a great way to spend an afternoon enjoying live music and witnessing young men and women undergo a type of rite of passage. They will be held in the Jean Brown Theater on March 10, 24, and 31, April 7 and 21 and May 5.