Monday, August 01, 2011

Pianists: Why You May Need to Mark in Rehearsal

In staging rehearsals, a rehearsal pianist is often expected to play some musical sequences 20 or more times in a row. My personal record is 50 times through the dance sequence of "Cool" from Bernstein's West Side Story for dance auditions this January. This kind of repetition can be not only mind-numbing, but can also lead to repetitive stress injuries. Proper learning and adequate thought about one's technical setup can only go part of the way when you need to repeat a section dozens of times for staging.

Just like classical singers, you may need to mark. Take a look at Geraldine in a Bottle's Can accompanists mark? for some excellent advice on when and how to let up on a long rehearsal day. The trick is to play slightly softer, leaving out notes when necessary, but with the same rhythmic impetus and intent. Remember to pace yourself, learn the music properly in the first place, don't go on autopilot, and be aware of your technical setup at all times.

Pianists: how do you cope with long hours of rehearsing?


  1. Anonymous1:05 PM

    I'm willing to be there a certain amount of time to work with the performers but beyond that, I record it. They don't need me to sit there playing it over and over and I have a limit. I know it may sound snotty but there is a difference between what they are doing and what you are doing. You are supposed to play it more or less "perfectly" every time so everyone else can get it through their skills how it really goes, through repetition. You can't convince me that the dancers, singers, whatever, are putting 100% into every single runthrough of a piece. When the show is a success they will forget you had anything to do with it anyway as will be critics and most of the audience.