Saturday, May 10, 2008

Thoughts on Performing

In an impulsive moment I volunteered to help out with Mariel's violin recital by playing the accompaniments on the piano. I ended up with seven accompaniments to learn. This wasn't a really a big deal because most of the accompaniments were for little Suzuki pieces. But I had two concerto accompaniments to learn, and that was a lot of fun, a lot of adrenaline, and a lot of nervousness in the weeks before the recital.

Sometimes when I perform, my hands get sweaty and shake. This isn't too hard to hide when you are singing, but when you are playing piano it can really be disastrous. I have only performed on the piano three times in the last seven years, and in each one of those performances my fingers wobbled with nervousness. I remembered this after I had stopped patting myself on the back for being such a nice guy and volunteering to play the accompaniments. What had I let myself in for? What if I let down the kids?

I had four weeks to practice the Vivaldi concerto, and three weeks on the Rieding concerto. My kids were humming the accompaniments, and even the melody parts, by this week. And picking them out on the piano. Ad infinitum. In fact, Cornflower entertained us all with her *air violin* performance. (I didn't realize Vivaldi could be so raucous!)

I had practiced and practiced; but what if my mind messed up my fingers? I prayed God would not allow that to happen.

And thank the Lord, it didn't happen! My fingers were steady and my mind clear throughout the performance. I only had one anxious moment when, in the middle of the Rieding piece, my mind insisted on thinking about another one of the students. I couldn't remember if I had accompanied her or not and I knew she had already played. I told myself, "It doesn't matter at this point-- focus!" At first I thought my brain wouldn't do what I had told it to, but then the thought obligingly went to the back of the bus, and a good thing, too, because the pesky sixteenth note section was coming up.

I enjoyed accompanying the children today-- especially since I didn't louse the recital up for anybody! Oh, I made some mistakes, but was able to cover them, and even covered some tempo issues the kids had. We made it through together.

(Mariel did an excellent job, too! I got to accompany her on two of her pieces.)

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