I started performing concerts very, very young. Both of my parents were classically trained pianists. My dad also played Jazz and was a composer, and my mom also played harpsichord. My parents worked a lot with me on how to build a set for a performance, my mom behind-the-scenes and working on dynamics, and my dad on the stage and working on what happens live.
The dynamics include what happens within each song with its initial key and modulations, initial meter and changes, and the initial feel and tempo and any changes. Then there is how one song relates to the subsequent song. On stage, my dad would look at my charts and set list and say, “Now, listen and follow me.” He’d change the order of the songs, change keys and meter, and all the while I had to listen like a fiend and anticipate and follow what he was doing. All of this goes into a live performance. It’s a lot of work and it’s exhilarating from beginning through the actual performance.
© 2008 Betsy Stern.
I wrote this for my mom when I was 14. The night before she passed away, I sat with her and played her favorite music. I slipped in this song. She was no longer able to speak, but she recognized the music and looked deeply into my eyes. It was an amazing exchange of life, music, and love.