January 15, 2012
Last Sunday, exactly one week earlier, was our student concert 2012.
It was the third student concert I have organized so far.
Every single time before a student concert, I would be very nervous on top of being occupied with organizing it. And after each concert, I pondered whether everything could have gone more smoothly. But each time it got better, in terms of physical and emotional preparation.
I don’t really know for sure what my students and their parents think about having such event every year. Certainly for those who have chosen to participate in the event would appreciate such opportunity as well as my effort in making it happen, and I cannot thank them enough for taking part all the same. However, I just want to make it very clear that I do not earn any money from it. In fact, this year especially, I have paid much extra out of my own pocket for the concert.
Many might not know all the details and the pain of organizing a concert. First and foremost, there is the cost of concert venue, which is the biggest part of the cost. Every part of the venue costs money. For instance, other than the venue of the concert day, fees are charged for the rehearsal, the piano (and tuning, which is of separated cost), the microphones, the sound recording, the video recording (the electricity provided for the video!- it’s true), the photography, the guest etc. Then there are brochure design, brochure printing, ticket printing, chop making…etc etc. One just cannot think of how many items that can cost separate fee to them (many helped with a “friendly” price, big thanks to you all).
I am not good at administrative work at all(after all I am a pianist and a teacher), and those back-and-forth emailing and communication with the brochure design company and the venue coordinator (who both were very helpful this time, fortunately for me) can be very frustrating. However, from organizing a concert each year, I have learnt quite a lot of such matter and am getting more used to it, and each time I know there is still room for more improvement to make the next concert better. Of course for me, I would rather play music and teach instead of doing administrative work, yet in order to save cost and make the organization go more smoothly, I take up this task every single time and do it on my own (next time I will hire a concert manager to administer the whole project, otherwise I cannot perform more and take care of the whole situation more smoothly).
Now, some might wonder why we have a concert every year, particularly now understanding that I am even losing money in it. Well, to begin with, it is a great opportunity for students to perform in public. Some people might think that this is not necessary, because it is not useful for exams or competitions etc. As a matter of fact, it is. Some students are shy in particular, and they need to build up their self-confidence to play in front of other people. If we only wait until that one exam or one competition every year for the students to play before others, it would take a long time for them to gather up their courage and confidence of themselves (of course just one concert a year is not enough; we also have gatherings and other performances lined up). That is also why I ask some of them to be the MCs. Being able to speak in front of the public is just as scary as to play the piano. I do know beforehand that some of the students are not good at speech (in fact, a few have been quite bad). But that is exactly why they should be doing it more often. How is one supposed to get better if s/he has never gotten a chance to practice doing it? The same goes for music performance as well. One can only go further and play better with more practice and performance opportunities – that means one cannot hide away from the risk of making mistakes in performance and think the fear and nervousness would go away on their own.
I know it is nerve-wrecking to perform in front of others. I have been there and done that, many a time. The nervousness doesn’t just go away completely for good, but after countless occasions of performing on stage and publicly, the nervousness diminishes, and I learn to live with it and have it under control. I understand that it is perfectly normal to be somewhat anxious about my own performance, after all, I get nervous only because I care! It is actually good to have some anxiety over one’s own performance, because I did perform in situations which I did not care of at all and I found my playing was not as good as those I cared to worry about.
Now, as usual, I have asked my students and their parents to give me some feedback on our concert. If you have also come to our concert last Sunday, please, send me some comments. I would love to hear from you. Or those who did not come but would be interested in listening to us next time, you are welcome as well to give me some ideas as to what kind of program you would like us to perform.
Until the next post,
Students and Me, before our Student Concert on Jan 8, 2012, taken outside agnès b. CINEMA, Hong Kong Arts Center