(Klik hier voor dit artikel in het Nederlands.)

The fact that page turners can make it to great heights is illustrated by the humerous resume below. (By page turners I mean: the people who sit beside a pianist during a concert and turn the pages of the sheet music, so the pianist can continue playing without interuption.) I’m not sure of the origin of the article below, I found it somewhere on the internet:

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 a winner of the 1984 Rimsky Korsakov “Flight of the Bumblebee” Prestissimo Medal, having turned 47 pages in an unprecendeted 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 grand piano. 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.


Of course, nowadays people can read music off iPads, which can be operated by a footswitch to turn pages. This may, at some point, eliminate the ancient art of page turning.

(Image: “iPad Sheet Music” by Aaron Parecki, distributed under CC BY 2.0 license.)

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