Monday, June 06, 2011

Miss Smith on How to Treat Your Pianist

From Fifi and Fanny, a blunt, hilarious, and informative primer on how to treat your pianist. This video should be shown to all incoming college freshmen singers and instrumentalists...

(Thanks, Craig!)


  1. Many good points with which I agree. I'm less demanding on the label now than I was decades ago, but I completely support the concepts of respect and tidy photocopies. Since it seems ('round my neck of the woods, anyway) not everybody gets how to punch holes at the same height on opposite sides of single-sided copies, I generally do accept loose sheafs and punch/tape them myself... maybe that's not how it's done in a big city with large volumes. :-)

    For distance clients, I accept raw JPG scans and clean them up with rotation, contrast control and lowering color depth before printing.

    Is that "Miss Stern" or "Miss Smith"? :-) Excellent expression!

  2. I'll go on record as disagreeing with "double-sided and holepunched". Whenever any singer (or instrumentalist) have given me music like that, they've done it WRONG. Like, the page turns where I don't want them.

    If a piece is 4 pages long, it's silly to have it like she had it in the video -- one page, turn for 2 pages, turn for the last page. Have it as 2 pages, turn for 2 pages. Unless you're deliberately keeping it the same as the original book to get used to those page turns.

    But singers don't think about page turns. I prefer to get copies single-sided and I'll arrange them myself. A trick I've recently learned is to put them in page protectors... no gluing or taping, easy to change if I want to change the page turns, no need to hole punch, fast and easy. The only disadvantage is having to take a page out of a protector in order to write notes on the score. But it's certainly an option in many situations.

    Perhaps another related addition to this list, though, would be "HAVE ORIGINAL SCORES". I tell my soloists that photocopies are fine while we're rehearsing, but we need originals for the concert/festival/exam/whatever. Usually they know this already and have them on order or something, but sometimes you do hear "I don't have an original score for you... you don't think that matters, do you?"

  3. Great comments, Toto and motherbynature. I hadn't had my morning coffee yet when I posted - it's Miss Smith.

  4. I agree with everything you said, Ms Smith! I hate when singers give me single-sided music. I usually tell them how I want it and they do it (incorrect of course more often than not, but I never give up). I have too much music to deal with to tape it by myself. My favorite part of your video was the insult of being called a singer! Well done!

  5. Scutmorgan12:19 PM

    "How fast do you like to sing this?" "Oh, well...." (pointing at the tempo marking) "....allegro?"

    One of my favorites!

    Also a moment that will stand out in my memory - a baritone of no small professional accomplishment hired me to play an audition where he was singing the fiendishly difficult "die Frist ist Um" from der Fliegende Holländer, but warned me that he "only had photocopies." I assured him that that would be fine, then I got there and he handed me a stack of single sided-unattached pages of a reduction with which I was totally unfamiliar on GREEN PAPER! I should have walked out.....

  6. Anonymous3:48 PM

    Funny, helpful and true. But HEY!!!! Seek some happiness and JOY in your sound so ANGRY!

  7. I just remembered.

    1) Doesn't the insistence on proper printed key remove the motivation for pianists to develop the useful skill of transposition? ;-)

    2) Yes, I agree with the comment on page-turn strategy: one turn for four pages makes a lot more sense than two.

    3) I find I dislike plastic page protectors - my finger skin just doesn't provide the right combination of humidity and grip for comfort, and it annoys me greatly to have to slide pages out to write fingerings or comments. Even more than getting single-sided music. Am I in the minority??

    4) In the future, perhaps communication between soloists and collaborators will change as digital scores and tablet computers become more commonplace at the piano. ;-) ;-)

  8. I'd love to know: do American's usually say piAnist, instead of pIanist?

  9. Another act like mozzart fur elise, but this one is dedicated to some other girl.
    He is just amazing!

  10. Mike Langlois2:22 AM

    MBN: I actually prefer to get it double-sided, as long as they adhere to the original pagination. If need to make adjustments, I do them myself at a later time (unless I have a page turner).

    Helen: Pi 'a no -- Pi 'a nist.