Monday, July 11, 2011

A Brief Guide to Page Turners, Updated

Here is an updated list, built upon a previous post, of the most common kinds of page turners with corresponding identifiers for easy reference. Thank you to all who have contributed, again everyone feel free to add on. 

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

Danglers are
 those who wear cardigan sweaters, unclipped ties, lanyards, scarves, or other annoyingly fringed items while turning pages. These items create a constant distraction throughout a performance, often grazing the performer’s left arm with every page turn. 

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

Elephants in the Room are obviously last-minute recruits, mainly identifiable by inappropriate clothing such as jeans and t-shirts. They occasionally wear all-black with white socks. 

Hand Position Observers have been known to put off many a pianist in performance with their single-minded focus on the hand, wrist, and forearm position of the pianist whose pages they are supposed to be turning. These unusually dedicated students of piano pedagogy also tend to carry protractors backstage.

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

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.

Participators will read the text of the singers and/or hum along with the melodies during performances. 

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.

Songbird Heart Attacks are singers who are recruited as page-turners. They inevitably wait until the last word on the page has been sung, regardless of the difficulty of the accompaniment, how many times or how vigorously the performer nods, and the myriad of other small signs they send (throat-clearing, a nudge with the left knee, etc.) that it is beyond time to turn the frickin' page. In addition to inciting panic and frantic slapping of pages, they invoke very strong urges towards homicide.

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.

Terrifyingly Clueless tend to ask questions like, "Which side should I sit on?"

Totally Screwed turners are those faced with unattached Xerox copies, pocket scores, unfortunate spotlight placements, random air-conditioning mishaps and other situations which cause a formerly competent turner to be blinded, confused and utterly useless.

Two-Second Delay turners get up exactly two measures later than you are comfortable with, and turn two measures later than you'd like.  They get the job done, but ultimately it feels like you barely made it through the recital.  It helps to think, "Hey, it could be worse."

Walking Wounded are traumatized page turners who get lost in scores with extensive cuts, additions and revisions. If they turn the page too early and the pianist whips the page back, they cower in fear and humiliation, hindering any ability to be useful for the rest of the recital. Unfortunately, this is usually a close friend, resulting in tearful explanations or angry confrontations over difficulty of the score. A reconciliatory drink is recommended.

We applaud the:
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Page-Turners are the ninjas among page turners, and 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.

Just for fun, here is A Page Turner’s Bio:
(The following program notes are found randomly on the internet and are from an unidentified piano recital.)

Tonight's page turner, Ruth Spelke, studied under Ivan Schmertnick at the Boris Nitsky School of Page Turning in Philadelphia. She has been turning pages here and abroad for many years for some of the world's leading pianists.

In 1988, Ms. Spelke won the Wilson Page Turning Scholarship, which sent her to Israel to study page turning from left to right. She is winner of the 1984 Rimsky Korsakov Flight of the Bumblebee Prestissimo Medal, having turned 47 pages in an unprecedented 32 seconds. She was also a 1983 silver medalist at the Klutz Musical Page Pickup Competition: contestants retrieve and rearrange a musical score dropped from a Yamaha. Ms. Spelke excelled in "grace, swiftness, and especially poise."

For techniques, Ms. Spelke performs both the finger-licking and the bent-page corner methods. She works from a standard left bench position, and is the originator of the dipped-elbow page snatch, a style used to avoid obscuring the pianist's view of the music. She is page turner in residence in Fairfield Iowa, where she occupies the coveted Alfred Hitchcock Chair at the Fairfield Page Turning Institute.

Ms. Spelke is married, and has a nice house on a lake.

And, an Amusing Infographic by ToneDeaf:

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