William Fitzpatrick - violin expert

Playing with Piano

Learn where to position yourself when playing with a pianist

In this video, prof. Fitzpatrick tells you where you should stand when playing on stage with a pianist.

Released on December 7, 2016

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Okay, so, I've seen so many variations on this theme that I thought I should enter the fray. So here we go. Just where should one stand when playing with a pianist or playing with the piano? With that thought, that question, my name is William Fitzpatrick, and I am the artistic director of the MusiShare Young Artist program, and as well the Henri Temianka Professor of Violin at the Hall-Musco Conservatory of Music, which is located on the campus of Chapman University.

So let's see, I think there are only three, maybe four possibilities. One would be up front from the center of the piano. Two would be on the right side of the piano. Three, slightly behind the pianist. So let's start with up front from the center of the piano. Lots of people place themselves here, as they are the soloist in this spot, and the pianist should follow them no matter what. Well, the problem here is that for the pianist, it becomes a guessing game as to when to play. By the time the information about what to do gets to them, they're probably behind or playing soft enough to get out of the way. So despite the fact that you are in front and center, you could find yourself by yourself. In my way of thinking, this is not a good place to be.

And what about on stage right of the piano over there? Well, with this placement, you're completely turned from the pianist, so to see them you must swivel around. But, then your F holes are pointed towards the piano. Into the piano, and not towards the public. Well, I guess you can see why this might not be the greatest of ideas. On top of it, you are so very, very, very, very far away from the pianist.

So now, we get to where I have my students stand. Well, I tell them to be slightly behind the pianist. From this point of view, you can easily see the pianist's hands, and from that, judge when to play with them. In turn, they can see your scroll's movement to help guide them on this collaborative journey. But aren't they supposed to follow you? Well, I think of it as a joint venture, and so this becomes a collaboration towards a common goal. That goal being making music together. Each side dependent on the other.

Well, certainly there are other variations on these themes but I believe this defines the parameters pretty well, so as always, I do hope this video helps your practicing become more efficient and effective, which helps you to practice hard, but wisely, and that this will lead you to giving even better performances.
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