Andrew Staupe is an American award-winning pianist; Andrew’s playing has been broadcast nationally and his concerts have met raving reviews. He’s performed all over the world– I’m excited to feature Andrew today!
Andrew doesn’t come from the ‘typical pianist’ background (read on to see why), but he’s making a name for himself anyways. Plus, Andrew shares tips on succeeding as a pianist.
What Quality Distinguishes Me
The biggest thing that separates me from other concert pianists is my unique background in the arts.
I started out in Classical Ballet, then moved on to musical theater in Minneapolis (Guthrie Theater, Children’s Theater), then delved into early music (I started my own choir, the Leoninus Ensemble), and picked up the violin at age 15.
I’m a pianist first and foremost, but it’s the variety of things I’ve done and want to do that separates me from most other concert pianists these days.
I also trained in Minnesota and Texas, and not in New York at Juilliard or Curtis in Philly… that’s another thing too. I guess you could say that I came out of the woodworks!
Andrew’s Practice Schedule
“[My schedule is] flexible and ever-changing.”
My practice schedule depends on what is coming up, and whether I have performed the pieces or not.
If I don’t have anything for a while, I’ll take the time to learn new music; this is my chief joy.
The process of memorizing doesn’t feel like work to me at all. However, woodshedding (aka repetition of tough passages, increasing the metronome up gradually) certainly DOES (feel like work).
The closer I am to a concert, the more I practice, from a few hours to all day, depending on the type of concert and where it is. But it’s flexible and ever-changing.
The Utmost Important Quality of Every Pianist
“It’s so competitive, there are so many letdowns, and there are so many struggles that it’s easy to get overwhelmed.”
This is a tough, tough business. Perseverance, diligence, and tough skin are the chief qualities on the personal side. It’s so competitive, there are so many letdowns, and there are so many struggles that it’s easy to get overwhelmed.
Musically, a concert pianist needs to have a solid memory, agile fingers (size doesn’t really matter), be able to learn music rather quickly (or get it back fast for concert substitutions which happens a LOT), and charisma.
Getting along with colleagues, in orchestral and chamber music settings, is a must these days. Who wants to play with people who are tough to work with?
On Dealing with Nerves
“[I]f you practiced diligently and you’re fully prepared, that’s all you can hope for and you must trust in your abilities.”
I grew up onstage, though it was in the realms of ballet and theater initially. Performing in front of people just became a natural thing, so the transfer to music was smooth.
However, I get nervous, sometimes quite nervous, just like everyone else.
The #1 thing you must do is trust in your preparation beforehand: if you practiced diligently and you’re fully prepared, that’s all you can hope for and you must trust in your abilities.
Additionally, I always think to myself (in those few hours leading up to the performance, which can feel like anxious ‘limbo’), “Andrew, you’ve played this piece successfully many times in public, and you haven’t had a glaring memory slip since you’ve become a professional; things are going to be ok!”
And it helps.
But the mental game, just like in sports, is probably the toughest thing to deal with before you walk out.
Once you’re out it’s great. But before then, everyone needs to develop their own ways of dealing with the pressures of onstage performance.
Awesome! Follow Andrew’s journey through his website at AndrewStaupe.com.
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