Solo vs. Flute & Piano Performances

Greetings and welcome to a new Flute Friday/Saturday. September 2018 flute horoscopes have been posted in The Flute View. Check them out here to discover what September holds for your flute playing: http://thefluteview.com/2018/09/dr-gs-september-flute-horoscopes/ . These horoscopes are available without a subscription this month!! (But of course, you should also subscribe because The Flute View is totally awesome!).

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While I was at the NFA Convention this year, I attended a wonderful recital of solo flute works that really made me appreciate the differences between performing solo pieces versus repertoire written for flute and piano. The two approaches are so very different, but we often take some the nuances for granted, particularly when we are teaching others. In today’s blog, we will look at some of these differences and how to better approach performing works from each of these scenarios. Remember to adapt to the role you play and embrace the spotlight when it is your time to shine.

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Solo vs. Flute & Piano Performances

Performing flute & piano works is a partnership. There is a natural give and take in this performance scenario. Sometimes you are the star and sometimes you are the accompaniment. This is a great opportunity to display your ability to adapt your playing technique based on your role. In contrast, performing solo works requires you to be in the spotlight at all times.

 
You have more creative freedom as a soloist. When performing solo works, you are like a musical painter in which every color change or slight variance between notes contains a brand-new meaning. You may have opportunities to do this periodically in flute and piano works during cadenzas, but it is not the focus of the entire performance.

 

Flute and piano works test your ensemble skills. This performance scenario highlights how well you communicate with other musically, challenging how you indicate changes in tempo, rubato, dynamic changes, mood changes, fermatas, ending and beginnings, and much, much more.

 
Solo playing tests your pacing and projection ability. There is literally no room to hide or blend into the texture when it is just you and the stage. You must be brave and play out no matter what!

 
Physical stage movements and stand/equipment changes are much stricter in a flute and piano scenario. You must be able to see each other to effectively communicate both musically and non-musically. In contrast, as a solo performer, where you stand and how much light you require is far more flexible. For example, at the closing performance during this year’s NFA Convention, Jim Walker performed Debussy’s Syrinx in a darkened room, while slowly walking from the back of the hall, up the isles, and to the front of the stage (accompanied by the sounds of the thunderstorm occurring outside). Very effective!

 
Stamina is a concern in solo playing. You must be prepared to go from Point A (the beginning of the work) to Point B (the end) without collapsing on stage from exhaustion. There are no rests, leaving little time for you to catch your breath.

 
Introverts may prefer solo playing. Extroverts may gravitate towards collaborative opportunities. Know your personality before programming a solo-heaving recital versus an all flute and piano recital. A healthy balance of both types of pieces will help give you a well-rounded performance.

 

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What other differences can you identify between performing flute and piano works versus solo repertoire? What types of works do you prefer to play? What are the challenges between each performance scenario? Please comment below!

Happy Fluting!

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