sevenhelz: photo of me snuggling a cat. my face is not shown (Default)
posted by [personal profile] sevenhelz at 09:11pm on 10/05/2009 under
Can we talk about page-turners? Is it arrogant for me to want to discuss this, when I page-turn myself, when I consider my page-turning to be pretty good, when nobody outside of music has probably ever considered it something you can be skilled at? Is this weird? Or is it okay to start this discussion?

See, I've nearly finished a three year degree complete with classes on performance covering every aspect of how you stand, how you bow, how you play, how you move as you play, how you interpret music, how you express that interpretation, how you project to an audience, how you talk to an audience, if you find talking approriate, how you communicate with your accompanist, etcetera etcetera ad infinitum, but we've never talked about the role of the page-turner, or whether we should offer to provide one for our pianist since the University so generously doesn't? I've been a member of a music forum, which membership I've sadly let lapse, and I've searched for music blogs to read, but nowhere can I find a discussion on page-turning, or even basic instructions. So, what, it's too insignificant to talk about? I disagree.

I started page-turning at college, not regularly, but once or twice for our gorgeous pianist there. I forget his surname, so we'll just call him L. I can scarcely believe this looking back, but at the time I didn't read piano music terribly well - I could follow full scores, but following where the pianist was on the page and knowing when to turn was really hard. My understanding improved a little as I learnt some piano myself, but mostly what I consider good page-turning is stuff I've learnt from other people's - and my own - mistakes.

Things that can go wrong as a page-turner include: pages not staying open properly once turned, pages being difficult to separate before turning, pages being unattached at the centre or unbound for whatever reason and falling off the stand as you turn them, pages ripping (rare), pages making a whipping sound as you turn, turning too late or too early, and looking bored.

Yeah, that's right. A page-turner looking bored really distracts me from a performance. Even if the position is only assistant to an accompanist, there's still a physical body on stage, and their presence adds to the focus of the scene. If the page-turner isn't focussed, the audience can be distracted, and that's not what the performers want! A pianist needs page-turning to be on time, and not to be distracting to the audience, either through unnecessary sounds, or through the physical presence of the turner. A turner who stands up a long time before turning is a distraction, though a turner who doesn't give themselves time to move the page steadily can also mess up. It's a fucking skill. I don't think it's the hardest thing in the world, by any means, but I think turners who don't think about the image they're presenting are doing their pianists a disservice.

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