'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 05, 2008

Microphones and Hecklers

Judging by the title of this post you may be thinking that the concert yesterday didn't go too well.
Actually, it went very well indeed.
However, (I'm sure you can sense a but coming on), for the first two pieces the microphone wasn't working.
I don't know why, a sound check had been carried out earlier in the day.
So whilst Robin struggled on stage, behind the scenes chaos ensued, as the engineers tried to correct the problem.

Luckily Robin has a magnificent guitar.
On this trip he has taken his Miguel Rodriguez Churchdoor, which is a powerful instrument.
Also, Robin is known for his ability to create a huge sound.
So all was not lost.
The audience could hear, and, after the first two pieces the microphone was fixed.
Mind you, it isn't exactly conducive to relaxing 'into' ones concert...

Just as he recovered from this incident, a passing Spanish man, outside the theatre, shouted, "Concierto de Aranjuez," into the venue, before beating a hasty retreat.
As hecklers go, it could have been much worse!

But what should a musician do in this situation?
Ignore the interruption and pretend it never happened?
Stop playing and break into 'Concierto de Aranjuez' just to show he can?
Run outside and 'deal' with the perpetrator?

Well, as it happened Robin was about to introduce the next piece, through one of his now functioning microphones, so his reaction was to say, "No microphone and a heckler - this is not my day."

It was the right thing to do.
The audience were very amused, and he received a huge laugh.
I've always thought Robin has a secret desire to be a stand up comic.

But the serious point to all this is that being a musician is so much more than just producing the music.
Audiences want to be entertained.
Yes they have come to hear the music, but appearance, and stage presence, is so important.
You have to look in control, even if at times you don't particularly feel it.

Personally, I also feel that talking to the audience is vital.
It's such a great opportunity to engage them and pass on interesting information about the music they are about to hear.
This only enhances the whole experience.

But for many musicians this can be a huge ordeal. They are comfortable whilst playing their chosen instrument, but very uncomfortable with public speaking.

Fortunately, not Robin.
He has always talked to his audiences.
He feels that playing the notes is the difficult part, (and also the part he is so passionate about), so the speaking feels easy.
Having said that, all these years of experience have made a huge difference.
He has learnt what type of conversation people enjoy.
Like anything else, preparation is important.
You need to have thought about what you want to say before you go on stage. Not wait and hope inspiration strikes whilst under the blinding stage lights.
It won't, especially if you find the interaction with the audience difficult to start with.

However, you can't prepare for every eventuality, as Robin found out yesterday. That's where years of experience plays a very large role.
Assessing the situation, and making a split second decision on how to handle it, isn't always easy.

But judging from the comments Robin has been receiving since the concert, everyone was happy.
That's good news, as after all, it is why Robin's there.
To make music and to entertain.

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