The page turner

This evening I am going to a concert as the page turner. Some very good local musicians are putting on a concert with all proceeds going to flood relief. Much of the city is still in a bad way with many many houses yet to have repair work begun. This is not a post about the flood. It is about the art of the page turner.

After a lifetime of using a page turner or turning pages for other musicians I have come to the following conclusions about this vital role.

1. If you are turning for a pianist sit on a chair in between turns. As an audience member it is dreadfully distracting to see someone standing hovering over the performer. Once I watched a young girl turn pages for her friend at an Eisteddfod and after the last page was turned, instead of standing still on the stage until the music finished, she gradually backed off the stage into the wings. That was just plain odd.

2. Wear plain black clothes if it is a concert. As the page turner you are not the star of the show. Blend into the background and be unobtrusive.

3. Watch the performer carefully at all times. Ask them if they are going to give you a nod or if they trust you to rip the page over in a timely fashion. Sometimes they have memorised the end of the page and need to get over to see the top of the next page. Sometimes it’s the opposite and the bottom of the page is tricky yet the know what’s coming next. You need to judge whether to turn late or early.

4. If you see the music starting to fall, pages flipping back because the edition is one of those annoying bindings that won’t stay open easily then it is your job to stand there and hold it in place.

5. Walk on the stage after the performers and get the music organised while they are bowing etc.

6. At the conclusion of the performance pick their music up for them while they bow etc etc and get out of there as quickly as you can.

7. Do not raise your eyebrows or giveaway your impressions of the performance at any time even if it is a train wreck. Many in the audience will not have a clue so don’t let them in on that little secret. Be impassive.

8. Know where the repeats are. Also know if there is any Coda type situations.

Enjoy the fact that you are not having to perform. That’s what I intend to do this evening anyway. Also I just bought a new black top.


3 Responses to “The page turner”

  1. Cath Sheard says:

    You sound like a very practised page turner. I think your ‘train wreck’ comments are very apt. I wish people who are afraid of public speaking would realise that no one else knows if you change a word or whatever – and most want you to succeed. Get up there, get on with it, and ignore the train wreck!

  2. ILN says:

    Nice tutorial in page turning 🙂 Sad to hear your community is still suffering so badly in the aftermath of the floods 🙁

  3. Wendy Davis says:

    Thanks for the comments 🙂 Yes there weren’t any true train wreck moments and the audience loved it!

    Bundaberg is getting there but progress is slow.

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