Mastering the Art of Performance: A Primer for Musicians

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In Mastering the Art of Performance: A Primer for Musicians, Stewart Gordon offers seasoned advice to musicians intent on meeting the challenges of performance. Through real-life examples and pre-performance exercises, this accessible manual gives musicians and other performers practical insights into every aspect of performance. While other books merely identify and describe the problems associated with performance, this book offers detailed suggestions for solving them.
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Mastering the Art of Performance : A Primer for Musicians

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In Mastering the Art of Performance: A Primer for Musicians, Stewart Gordon offers seasoned advice to musicians intent on meeting the challenges of performance. Through real-life examples and pre-performance exercises, this accessible manual gives musicians and other performers practical insights into every aspect of performance. While other books merely identify and describe the problems associated with performance, this book offers detailed suggestions for solving them.
First, Gordon tackles the critical planning and preparatory stages, helping performers to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses. The book's easy-to-follow exercises address the self-doubt and anxiety many musicians contend with, helping them to analyze why they perform, set goals and assess the level of energy needed to achieve them, and develop a performance philosophy. The book also offers techniques that will help musicians deal with some of the classic pitfalls of performance preparation, including repetition and drill, changing bad habits, and developing memory.
For the performance itself, Gordon's insights help musicians with pacing and managing stage fright. For the aftermath, Gordon arms performers with strategies for dealing with criticism and conducting a constructive self-evaluation, equipping them to face the challenges of a lifetime of performances, including career plateaus and burnout.
Gordon draws from more than forty years of experience in front of audiences to offer readers invaluable tips and personal reflections. While aimed primarily at musicians, the book will be useful to anyone facing the pressures of performance, such as actors, dancers, and even public speakers.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Persson (Göteborg Univ.) offers a thoughtful, albeit disturbing, addition to the continuing discussion regarding the human condition. Philosophers have maintained since antiquity that reason is the primary and necessary element of a fulfilled and meaningful life. This serves to downplay, if not deride, the role of emotions and other ancillary mental states-what Persson calls the "para-cognitive" attitudes toward individuality, time and responsibility. Rationalism, as strictly construed and practiced, conflicts with all these aims. Persson contends that philosophy has treated para-cognitive attitudes as if they can be mapped onto a naturalistic framework; he does a laudable job of demonstrating that this is not the case. Thus one either stays within the rationalist framework expected of the philosopher (abdicating natural biases toward duty, self, and time), or (preferably) abdicates one's professional and cultural bias toward reason. Either option is unsettling.

"This is one of those rare volumes that should occupy an honored place on the book shelves of every serious student and teacher of classical music. Beginning with a broad based definition of performance as an integral part of the human experience, Mastering the Art of Performance: A Primer for Musicians, goes on to deal with the psychological, physical, practical, cultural and even spiritual dilemmas and opportunities familiar to everyone who aspires to a high standard of musical performace...The style and organization of Gordon's book is exemplary because it is astute without being academic, popular without being insipid, and practical without being Philistine."--American Music Teacher

"Within my long musical memory, this is the first knowledgeable book concerning the many details and challenges that confront today's performers in their quest for a fulfilling musical life. Mastering the Art of Performance is an essential book for every musician who aspires to be skilled in the complexities of a musical career. With fascinating and thought-provoking experiences, Stewart Gordon has presented a valuable and astute message for all dedicated performers."--Earl Wild, pianist

"Have you always wanted to avoid performance pitfalls? This detailed, comprehensive, and erudite book is written by an experienced performer and teacher who wants to help you do just that. Every musician and teacher should have it in easy reach; I recommend it."--Marni Nixon, soprano, actress, educator

"Here is solid and proven advice for all who are interested in performance, from a sterling musician who is well-known to the musical world. Get this book, follow its advice, and your life as a performer will be happier and enhanced immeasurably!"--Maurice Hinson, Senior Professor of Piano, School of Church Music and Worship, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky

"In Mastering the Art of Performance, Stewart Gordon brilliantly addresses all the challenges we face before, during, and after a concert performance. The solutions in this book offer extraordinary tools that should uplift, enrich, and offer great confidence to all who wish to transcend and command the stage!"--Norman Krieger, concert pianist

"Stewart Gordon, one of America's premiere concert pianists and teachers, has compressed decades of artistic and pedagogical wisdom into this concise, clear, and significant book, which addresses universal challenges encountered by all performers who strive towards ownership of their musical art. This book is a treasure trove of wise counsel that will find its place in my teaching studio forthwith."--George I. Shirley, The Joseph Edgar Maddy Distinguished University Professor of Music (Voice), and Director, Vocal Arts Division, School of Music, The University of Michigan

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195398724
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 1/4/2010
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 1,183,311
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Stewart Gordon has enjoyed a long and distinguished career as a pianist, teacher, editor, composer, and author. His books and video tapes are widely used in university classrooms. His new edition of the thirty-two Beethoven piano sonatas is attracting wide attention for its scholarly research. He is currently a Professor of Keyboard Studies at the Thornton School of Music of the University of Southern California.

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Table of Contents

Prelude: Defining Performance
1: Assessing Yourself, the Performer, Achieving a Positive Mindset Toward Performance
2: Why We Perform: Forging a Performance Philosophy
3: Physical Support for Performance
4: Conceptualizing and Scheduling Goals
5: Keeping Preparation Fresh and Focused
6: Dealing with Repetition and Drill
7: Techniques to Develop Secure Memorization
8: Insuring Quality
9: Self-Regard at the Time of Performance
10: Managing Stage Fright
11: Dynamics during Performance
12: Evaluation after Performance
13: Performance and Human Interaction
14: The Career Challenge
15: Physical Challenge and Performance
16: Performance Careers in Retrospect
Postlude: Performance and Your Spiritual Life
Selected Bibliography

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