Friday, January 25, 2008

Writing reviews

I finally finished my review of the "Triple Concerto" concert. It takes me hours and hours to write reviews. I wish I could do it faster, but maybe that will come with time. I should have a lot of practice this winter/spring season, with seven or eight concert reviews to write.

I started writing reviews 3 or 4 years ago because the previous arts reviewer for the local newspaper did not feel qualified to do so, and the professional musicians did not want to critique their colleagues. I fell into that middle ground of enjoying music as an amateur musician, though I do not have a musical education, besides flute and cello lessons, and enjoying writing.

I said "no," the first time I was asked to write a review, saying I was not qualified, but the person on the other end said that my cello teacher thought I would do a great job. How can you argue with that?

So, I e-mailed my sister, who is not only a professor of music, but also teaches English, including how to write a review. She gave me a lot of excellent advice, and suggested I get a recording of the music to be played to become familiar with it before the performance, do some background research, talk to people, etc. For that first concert, I actually bought a Music Minus One recording of the solo violin piece and studied the score, listened to the CD, and read the very detailed and interesting performance notes. I bought CDs for all the other pieces of music being performed and researched them, too. It turned out to be a very expensive concert, even though I got the tickets for free. I invited a friend to join me for the concert. She does have a music degree, and she teaches music at the elementary school level. She had a lot of insights, including some nonmusical observations, such as the fact that a violist was chewing gum throughout the concert.

So, many reviews later, I am now the arts and entertainment editor for the local paper. I no longer buy CDs for each performance, but I do listen to online performances, such as the Triple Concerto, and I do as much background reading as I can to better understand context of the piece. And I talk to friends who attended. (It was great to talk to Carol about this last concert!) I view reviews as an enjoyable part of my own self-administered music education. There is nothing like going to lots of concerts, and writing about them, to teach music appreciation.


Paulette said...

Wow, the amount of work you put into a review is impressive!
I enjoyed the mini concert.

cellodonna said...

You're getting a real hands on music education.

melissa said...

You have a dream job. And I too am impressed with the work you do behind the scenes. Well done!

Marisa said...

You're really earning your paycheck!

Laura said...

You always work and strive harder than most of the population. The reviews are very enjoyable, and I know you give them tremendous thought and consideration as you expand your thoughts to newspaper print. I thinks it's really great.

Maricello said...

Thanks for all the kind words! I do enjoy the research. It makes the music more meaningful for me, and I figure it helps make the music more meaningful for others. Some of the time expended is spent looking at that blank screen, though, trying to think of just the right word to express something that can't really be expressed in words.