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PRACTICE & PERFORMANCE
Experiment with the microphone placement. It may sound better placed in different positions - further away, closer, nearer the bridge, nearer the sound hole, etc.

In some situations you may find the mike picks up certain notes more than others. For instance, you will be playing a beautiful pianissimo passage and all of a sudden the C# you played will boom throughout the hail as if you had accented it fortissimo. This is often due to the sound pickup characteristics of the microphone or speakers or sometimes the hail acoustics. Try adjusting the microphone position or speaker placement.

In a professional setup an electronic piece of equipment called an equalizer can be used to correct the problem. Once the sound is to your liking you remember how it was set, where the microphone is placed, where the speakers are, volume settings, etc. Sometimes a different sound engineer will work for you for the concert than the rehearsal, so you might have to tell him how to set the sound.

As the rehearsal progresses make mental notes of insecure spots so you can practice them later. Also note any places where your tuning is off and remember to specifically tune for those passages next time. Usually at the end of the rehearsal the conductor will ask you if there are any spots you would like to go over again.

If you noticed any problem areas of ensemble between you and the orchestra take him up on his offer and correct them. Do not assume the problems will work themselves out in performance.

7. The performance
Be very clear about the program order and the time the concert is to begin so you can plan your schedule of when to eat, dress, warm up, and go to the hall.

Find out in advance of the performance what the orchestra and conductor will be wearing. You will look foolish in white tie and tails if the orchestra and conductor are wearing dark business suits. You do not have to wear exactly what they wear (after all, you are the soloist and have the right to exercise a little independence) but conform fairly close to the degree of formality of dress.

Try to get some idea of how long the works programmed before your concerto last. If a concert begins at eight o'clock you may not go on until nine or nine-thirty.

Also you might inquire as to whether someone will be recording the concert. If so, request a copy of the tape for your own use. Listening to it later will give you much valuable knowledge you can put to good use for your next concerto performance.

At the end of the programmed work before your concerto, the conductor will leave the podium to meet you offstage. Again, relax and be cordial. At this time of course your guitar is tuned and someone is placing your footstool on stage. (It looks tacky for you to carry the stool on yourself.) Know the route you are to take through or around the orchestra to go on stage. The conductor will follow you. The audience will applaud as you walk out. Once you reach center stage and the conductor has walked past behind you, acknowledge the applause with a short, brief bow and be seated. Make yourself comfortable, do not rush.

Check the position of the microphone and be certain it is turned on! Ask the conductor for an "A: and fine tune quickly, but accurately. When you are ready, nod at the conductor and wait for his downbeat.

Keep your attention on everything happening around you.

Listen to yourself, the orchestra, and the sound in the hall, especially the balance between you and the orchestra. If you feel you are not coming through, try to lean closer to the microphone. At the end of the first movement you can readjust its position if necessary. Watch the conductor out of the corner of your eye. And what to do when the orchestra is playing and you are not? Be involved with the music. Do not sit there feeling self-conscious or stare at the floor as if you are bored. Turn slightly to watch them play, look into the hall. You can even move your hands and head to the music. Be involved. But of course, do not overdo it and draw too much attention to yourself and detract from the music.

Between movements relax, catch your breath, and briefly check your tuning. If it is necessary ask the conductor for another "A". Also readjust the microphone if you need to.

When making any adjustments to the microphone it is best to turn it off. Otherwise the noise and clanging of touching it will reverberate through the hall.

When you have finished the concerto and the applause begins first turn and shake hands with the conductor. Do not bow to the audience first. Then turn to the concertmaster and shake his hand and acknowledge the orchestra with a smile and a short bow. Then, turn to the audience and take your bows. Again turn to the conductor and allow him to take his bows to the audience. Then, take another of your own. You will then look back to the conductor and begin to leave the stage with him following you. When you are off-stage, if the applause is continuing, ask the conductor if you may take another bow. He may or may not come out with you. Walk all the way back to centerstage to take more bows. Again you might want to turn to the orchestra and bow to them.

Encores in an orchestra concert can be tricky. Often the conductor or orchestra manager will ask you beforehand to play a solo encore. If you have not mentioned it, do not play a solo encore without first asking the conductor's permission. In rare instances of a stunning performance, the conductor may ask you to play the last movement with the orchestra again as an encore.

Usually your concerto will not be the last piece on the program so go back to your dressing room and prepare to greet well-wishers when the concert is over. Or, in most cases you may watch the rest of the concert from the wings of the stage.

Finally, when the concert is over and you have greeted people, signed autographs, and become giddy with praise and adulation do not forget to retrieve the footstool before you leave for an after concert party held in your honor. Enjoy . . .