A Recital Practice Plan

Photo by Emerald Harris/ULM Photo Services

Photo by Emerald Harris/ULM Photo Services

So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act.
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

As this semester draws to a close, I’m gearing up for several performances in December and during the spring. These include: recruiting concerts and a recital with our faculty brass trio, various orchestral performances, and a recital tour with Trio Mélange, a voice, horn, and piano trio (see image at left). The trio consists of myself and two ULM colleagues, Claire Vangelisti, soprano, and Richard Seiler, piano. We’ve performed together frequently over the past few years, including a contributing artist concert at the 45th International Horn Symposium in Memphis, TN. In addition to a faculty recital here in Monroe, we’ll perform at Centenary College of Louisiana, Stephen F. Austin State University, and The University of Texas at Tyler. Our program will include several lesser known, but high quality, works for voice, horn, and piano.

  • Carl Gottlieb Reissiger, 4 Gesänge, Op.117
  • Eurico Carrapatos, Dois Poemas de Miguel Torga
  • Gina Gillie, To the Seasons
  • Auguste Panseron, Le Cor: Romance

It’s a challenging program (approximately 52 minutes of music), and while it would be nice to have an open practice schedule to devote exclusively to this repertoire, as you can tell from the above I am going to be balancing a lot of different material in my day to day work. During graduate school I would have gone through all of this repertoire, plus etudes, ensemble music, and other materials, every day, averaging three and a half to four hours of practice. At this point in my career, though, I simply do not have the time to devote four hours every day to individual practice. Now, I strive to practice for two hours each day, unless I have a concert or heavy rehearsal schedule. When preparing for multiple programs, I usually create a rotation that allows me to practice everything over a period of several days. This approach seems to work, and it is really the only way I’ve found to make sure I cover everything. Here’s my current rotation for the Trio Mélange program. The numbers beside each work indicate specific movements to be practiced.

Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7
Reissiger 1, 3 Reissiger 2, 4 Reissiger 1,2 Reissiger 3,4 Reissiger   3, 1 Reissiger 4, 2 Reissiger 1,4
Carrapatoso Carrapatoso Carrapatoso Carrapatoso Carrapatoso Carrapatoso Carrapatoso
Gillie 1 Gillie 2 Gillie, 3 Gillie 4 Gillie 1 Gillie 2 Gillie 3, 4
Panseron Panseron Panseron Panseron Panseron Panseron Panseron

The Gillie and Reissiger are both lengthy, four movement works (20 and 17 minutes, respectively), and this schedule allows me to address each piece in its entirety multiple times over the course of a seven day period. The Carrapatoso and Panseron are a bit shorter and less technically involved, and won’t require as much time to prepare. Because of intervening commitments like rehearsals and performances, it might take longer than a week to progress through this seven day schedule. However, keeping track of the dates allows me to pick up where I left off  in the rotation after missing a day. After a warm-up/fundamentals session, I work for approximately 10-15 minutes on each piece, depending on the needs of each day. The remainder of the two hours is spent on ensemble music, etudes, and other chamber or solo repertoire. As the date of the performance gets closer, one or more of these days will be replaced with complete runs of the program.

If you’ve not tried such a detailed approach to recital or audition preparation, give it a shot! You will hopefully find yourself more prepared, more confident, and less stressed out even in the face of multiple performing commitments.

 

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