If you are a parent (and even if not) you have probably experienced trying to assemble a child’s toy or a BBQ or a piece of furniture from IKEA using the supplied reference manual. Take bolt “B” and insert into socket “BB”. Sounds simple, but before long a pile of parts lie scattered about the floor and the your blood pressure is reaching the explosive point. “Who wrote these d#%!! instructions, a moron?” you scream.
If you get too close you can’t tell the forest from the trees! -Anonymous
No, just a person so close to the intimate details and the specifics of the product that they write the user’s manual from “their own point of view”. They understand it perfectly, it makes complete sense, to them. But most of us are not technical engineers, we are humans with opposable thumbs and a short attention span. We don’t want to read a list of technical jargon just to put together a BBQ, we want to cook, now.
The reason I am delving into this subject is that the basic principle, which most people, especially technical or professionals often ignore, is that to be successful, products or performances must be designed from the “user or audience” point of view. They are the ones paying for the experience, not the performer or designer. This became blatantly obvious this evening at our third classical concert, this time in the small village of St. Couat du Razes in the south of France.
Several months ago we came up with the idea to have one of the young violin soloists play a particular opera aria on the violin, and then to sing various parts as well. Usually singers sing and violinists play and mixing the two is very rare. And as it turned out, very controversial as well, especially among the music professors supporting our Young Virtuosi charity and others steeped in the technical aspects of music. “Too much distraction for the player. She can’t give the piece the technical concentration and professional effort it deserves. It’s not good to mix. It won’t work.”
Good points, from the technical point of view. But the Executive Director of the concert series felt differently. It’s not about the notes or the singing, it’s about the audience. Will they enjoy the experience?
So, you decide! Here is 13-year-old violinist Stephanie Childress playing and singing the aria Laschia ch’io pianga from George Frederic Handel’s opera, Rinaldo, composed in 1711. Piano accompaniment by Kumi Matsuo, Masters graduate of the Royal College of Music. Arrangement by Stephanie Childress.
Here is the English translation from the Italian:
Let me weep
my cruel fate,
and I sigh for liberty.
May sorrow break these chains
Of my sufferings, for pity’s sake
Tight Lines . . .
John R Childress