Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Whittaker's field guide to page-turners!

(Pianist Billie Whittaker)

A quick reference to a great blog- freelance pianist Billie Whittaker's take on the various sub-species of page-turners! It is a very funny read, especially for those who are (or were!) working pianists.

I discovered Billie's blog (she is a DC/VA area musician) while doing some research on this whole "collaborative pianist" tag. I intend to blog about the issue, and am looking for opinions about what it means, etc. It was fun to find some humor as I do a lil research!

A Brief Guide to Page-Turners

Amid the crunch of recital preparations, many pianists forget to secure a page-turner, leading to last-minute recruiting from friends, friends-of-friends or from random strangers in the recital hall. Unsurprisingly, when the only real qualification is 'warm body', using potluck volunteers often has mixed results. The most common kinds of turners, both good and bad, are listed below* with corresponding identifiers for easy reference.

Crowders sit unnecessarily close at all times (sometimes practically in your lap).

Helicopters hover with a hand on the music, regardless of incredibly slow tempos or flat-laying scores.

Human Obstacles
attempt to turn from the bottom RH side of the music, blocking the view and inspiring thoughts of violence.

Music Civilians are mystified by the black and white dots scattered on the page and find what you do closely akin to magic. They are usually terrified of making a mistake and stare at you, unblinking and tense, for each nod. Oddly enough, they are one of your better options.

Space Cadets are either caught up within the music or contemplating what to have for lunch as you turn your own pages. They may also forget to show up to the concert at all.

Heart Attacks turn the pages too soon or too late (sometimes two at a time . . .) They incite panic and frantic slapping of pages.

turn with enough force to rip music or fling scores to the ground.

Silent Critics
are usually pianists of equal or higher chops. They're great at turning, but unfortunately also cause acute self-consciousness with every wrong note and bad fingering.

are a category I have never experienced, but a colleague of mine once worked with someone who liked to hum along with the melodies during performances.

The Best Page-Turning Award goes to:

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Page-Turner
. The ninjas among page turners, they sit completely out of one's peripheral vision. They rise with smooth motions approximately 1-2 lines from the bottom (depending upon tempo), turn the page lightening-quick and retreat back to invisibility without a whisper of sound. Their non-presence allows you to focus on the performance instead of on enabling someone to allow you to perform music.

And let's not forget:
Terrifyingly Clueless with questions like, "Which side should I sit on?"

Here is the url for her blog:


1 comment:

  1. Very funny, although slightly nervous laughter as I've been both turner and turnee and I recognise a good few of these mental states...!