Monday, October 15, 2007

Making Endings Work

One of the most common areas for improvement I notice in the performances I hear has to do with endings of works. Too often I see a great deal of effort expended on working up the beginning and middle of a piece, but the ending is viewed as an afterthought. However, endings are some of the most memorable parts of a performance, since they highly influence the quality of the applause (polite vs. boisterous) and the audience's memory of the performance.

So, to put it bluntly, work on endings of pieces. Here are some things to consider:
  • Does the ending extend the overall mood of the piece or does it make a sudden break with it?
  • Are there any particularly difficult technical demands on the performer at the end of the work? Often composers will put their nastiest technical writing just before the ending so the work can end with a bang.
  • Is there a particular choreography to the ending that will make it more effective? Could you benefit from fluorishes and showmanship or economy of movement and stillness?
For singers:
  • Is there a postlude following the last vocal line? How does it relate to the end of the work? If there is a postlude following the end of your singing, don't forget to remain facially engaged, as the audience is still looking at you. Therefore you must still look connected to the song while the piano or orchestra plays the postlude.
The ending of a work shouldn't always be the last part of the piece you learn. Putting the ending further ahead in the order of battle for music learning will ensure that it is a priority and not an afterthought.

Next: 5 Things to Remember About Fingerings

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