I’ve been home for four whole days now, and I’m still feeling inspiration from my IDRS visit. Today I’m thinking about mistakes.
Everyone made some. I heard 17 individual soloists in two days, and not one played perfectly. Not one person gave a CD quality performance. Which doesn’t in any way mean that I’m saying that they played badly.
The players I heard were world class. They were all very individual, and presented different sound concepts, different reed approaches, and different personalities. Any attempt to rank them would be absurd, and any attempt to count mistakes or compare performances in that way would be hateful, and that is NOT what I’m doing.
Sometimes when I take auditions, I can get very focused on perfection. And sometimes when I am performing on stage I have to really fight NOT to obsess about small mistakes – finger flubs or missed attacks or out of tune notes or dropped endings.
And I know players far more obsessive than I – and certainly more flawless as well – who think about mistakes all the time. Consistency and unarguable correctness are the tools of their trade.
I think there’s a place for that. We should aim for perfection, if only as a distant goal. But the performances I loved the most at IDRS were not necessarily the ones with the fewest mistakes, but the ones with the most heart. I loved it when I could clearly hear the phrase, and when it moved me. When I was caught off guard by an unexpected (but delicious) musical choice. When the beauty of a singing sound, appropriately used, struck my ear. When a lively and stylish turn of phrase felt just just right. None of these things are necessarily dependent on being perfect.
I’ve been told I’m a perfectionist. Nothing could be farther from the truth! I am confident that nothing I do is ever perfect, and I don’t even really aspire to that end. I think I might be an awesomist. I want what I do to be impressive, admirable, distinctive. Noticeable. Awesome.
I’m not sure I’m there yet, but I certainly heard some awesome playing while I was in NY. Thank you, EVERYONE, for the inspiration!