Friday, August 6, 2010

. . . You're Welcome

Courtesy is big in theatre. In a theatrical collaboration, artistic personalities are shoved together for long hours and deal with stress and deadlines - often without necessities like sleep, caffeine or air conditioning. Manners become very important in maintaining the peace (or at the very least, a functional level of animosity). To my mind, this is why actors and singers always cram pleasant things into their conversations - i.e. 'You're the best', 'you're amazing', etc. Pianists get to hear a lot of positive comments, but it's the courtesy phrase, "Thank You," that tends to get the most mileage. And an astounding range of meanings are wrung from those two syllables.

Volumes are conveyed by factors beyond word choice - the person's facial expression, tone and timing can change the meaning from actual gratitude to mere acknowledgment, hopeful toadying, etc . Here are some common 'Thank You's' that audition and rehearsal pianists will run into at some point:
  • Pure Gratitude Thank You: You saved my life out there!"
  • Relief Thank You: You didn't screw up, I was worried when I saw you
  • Perfunctory Thank You: I am a self-obsessed actor/singer who has already mentally checked out but I have enough experience and training to know you never piss off a pianist
  • Slightly Chagrined Thank You: I know its totally wrong for me to bring this song to an audition but I didn't care enough to bring something else
  • Surprised Thank You: Wow, I was expecting something less professional
  • Impressed Thank You: God, you're actually good!
  • Non Thank You: I secretly blame you for a bad audition
  • Bashful Thank You: Please don't think less of me after you've seen me totally suck
  • Shameless Self Promotion Thank You: I want you to speak positively about me in the future
  • Intelligent Thank You: I will do my damnedest to be charming because I need you on my side

What's funny is that a lot of pianists would prefer to have the stupid LH at the bottom of the page (or to not need to sightread 'The Beauty is" from Light in the Piazza) rather than a sincere thank you . . . Or I may just be speaking for myself.

Please feel free to add on anything from your own experiences.

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