'As always, it was sheer pleasure to observe Robin Hill's remarkable fluent technique: everything looks easy when he plays it.' Colin Cooper- Classical Guitar Magazine ----- 'Wonderful for their (Hill & Wiltschinsky) precision, touch and clarity of sound... refined virtuosity, the achievement of a long interpretive process.' Il Giornale D'Italia (Rome) ----- 'I loved your CD and thought your technique and performance were fabulous...' Rick Wakeman

Friday, April 20, 2007

Robin Hill and Memorisation

Today we have entered the 'twilight zone' where the number of hours in the day seem to be halved and the amount to fit in doubled.
Yes, it's that time again, Robin is setting off on his travels tomorrow.
I did take time out to read an article in The Guardian, 'All in the Mind', by pianist Susan Tomes.
Tomes discusses the art of memorising music and the strains that this puts on musicians. It's worth a read, there are lots of good points.
She states that, 'many musicians find it so stressful that they play less naturally than they would with the score.'
Also, that, 'memorising music is more complex than memorising words and the challenge is multidimensional for those who also have to play instruments.'

I wouldn't dispute that, but it isn't the case for all musicians. However, I can only talk about Robin's view on memorising music.
For him, it is a part of the process of learning and understanding the piece, and he would never perform any music until he felt that process was complete.
Robin likens it to actors on the stage. You wouldn't expect them to walk around still holding onto their script. They only get up on stage to perform once they have immersed themselves in the part.
The same applies to music.
However, at the beginning of his career, he did have music on stage with him, but rarely looked at it, mainly because he usually plays with his eyes shut. In fact, quite often the music on the stand wasn't even the piece he was currently performing. He would literally forget to turn the pages.
The issue was that it was there. A crutch to lean on.

Over time he realised that not only was it redundant, but was also obscuring the view for most of the audience. Even if the music stand is put slightly to the side, someone won't be able to see very well.
So, many years ago, he took the brave decision to perform without music, and he still maintains it is a liberating experience. All his attention goes on interpretation, the notes are already there.
Frequently members of an audience will comment that they have just observed him perform for an hour and a half, without the aid of music, and are amazed that so much information can be stored in the mind. It seems to make the concert experience special for all concerned.

Robin does actually have many hours of music memorised to call upon when required, a combination of physical, audio and sensory memory.

However, he does still take music with him when he travels. Not just new pieces he is working on, but, also ones that will be performed in that concert. He hasn't quite shaken off the crutch altogether, even if it doesn't actually make it out of the suitcase.
Speaking of which, there's a pile of music to make space for in the case I'm just packing....

No comments: