'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, September 28, 2007

Yehudi Menuhin, Robin Hill and the Psychology of Performance

I'm getting rather mixed messages from the QE2.
The second concert went very well last night and there was a large and appreciative audience. The programme was very much enjoyed, and, there have been many wonderful comments.
However Robin wasn't pleased with it.
There was no particular reason for this, which was making it difficult for me to reply, with any form of reassurance.
So I turned to Robin's own book, 'The Guitar Gymnasium', and read his chapter on 'Performance and Practice'.
At one point Robin refers to Yehudi Menuhin's book, 'Unfinished Journey', and whilst the instrument may be different, the psychology is the same:

"The performing violinist continually reviews the hours, days and weeks preceding a performance, charting the many elements that will release his potential - or put a brake on it. He knows that when his body is exercised, his blood circulating, his stomach light, his mind clear, the music ringing in his heart, his violin clean and polished, it's strings in good order, the bow hair full and evenly spread, then - but then only - he is in command. But neglect of the least of these elements must gnaw his conscience. The audience, even the critic, may not suspect his troubled conscience, or may ascribe a blemish to an irrelevant cause, all unaware of the player's silent admission of insufficiency, his self-disgust, his begging to be given another chance. Even if no fault is noted, the audience's plaudits, their stamping and standing, are of no comfort to him then." Yehudi Menuhin.

So as you can see, Robin is in very good company, with any doubts he may have.
I suspect that the loss of a days practise, due to illness, was enough to upset his equilibrium.
However, he has one more concert to perform on the QE2, which will be on Sunday.
As he is docking in Quebec, Canada, later today, I will at last have the chance to speak to him again.
I must remember to tell him to read his own chapter on performance and remind himself just how difficult it is!


Ben Clapton said...

Musicians are their own worst critics always. We're never satisfied with our performance, because there's always something that can be better. It's why we keep practicing, it's why we keep learning, because it can always be better. We're always in search of that elusive (and always unattainable) perfect performance.

I was once told "Strive for Excellence. Perfection is a waste of time."

Being put into rough conditions (such as a sea journey) can alter your pre-concert routines, you just need to try and keep it as normal as possible. I hope Robin stars feeling much better once he gets to Canada.

Anna said...

Hi Ben,
Good to hear from you.
You're right, musicians have an ideal in their head which is very difficult to achieve, but, also what motivates them to continue.
It is very difficult performing, especially at sea, as contact with home becomes difficult, it's easy to feel isolated.
I have now spoken to Robin and he's fine, in fact, he's enjoying Quebec very much!