Keeping It (and yourself) Fresh

March 11, 2011


Closing night of Fiddler on the Roof, 2nd show after a matinee, and I’m falling asleep at the baton. It’s the train station scene, with the beautiful oboe underscore, and I’m thinking about something else, probably a pillow. Suddenly I become aware of the horrible silence of nothing happening. Someone coughs. I’ve missed my cue. And worst of all, the dialogue before the singing had already passed, and the only way to get into the song was to play the entire opening in the clear, as the whole audience has a good 15 seconds to think about how I had missed my cue and ruined the scene. If I’d taken a nap between shows, I probably would have been fine, but I was going through an I-can-do-everything phase, and I was too stupid to know my limits.

The trick to maintaining your focus is preparation. How much sleep can you really afford to lose before your performance suffers? When does your blood sugar drop? Plan your entire day around what will put you in your best frame of mind. Is there an activity you can use to stay on task and not let your mind wander? (for example, when you have a long section of dialogue, leaf through the next couple of numbers, make a mental note of the most likely mistakes, then leaf back, and mentally trace out the blocking that will happen before your cue)



  1. That’s the worst when that happens! I’m sure all music directors have had that happen at one point or another. Also, I love your blog!

  2. Fiddler on the Roof–NO REST for the pianist, not even half a page!!!! (well, maybe in Tevye/Lazar Wolf scene) And if you’re looking ahead for what you’re transposing, it’s even more intense!

    Did it two years ago. Exhausting. But Sooooo worth it.

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