This is What I Do

I love performing. The recital I just gave in Chicago was such an eye-opener for me – it reminded me why I’m doing this and that this is what I do. Yes, my level of stress for the past two weeks has been astronomical – I felt terribly underprepared, and so distracted with the baby and the teaching and the reeds and the difficult orchestra concerts that it seemed impossible to me that I could pull it off. I couldn’t have done it alone – I leaned heavily on my support system this time out. Paul and I crammed all weekend to secure this tricky music that we had never played before, and we did it all in twenty-minute chunks between bouts of nursing a teething six-month-old – again, don’t try this at home.

The morning of the recital, though, I woke up ready for action. I assembled breakfast, coffee, and all of the baby’s paraphernalia, and got to my dress rehearsal only 5 minutes late, which in my current life is pretty darned impressive. I soaked up a reed, played a few notes – the old me would already have fully warmed up at home and weeded my reed choices down to the five top contenders; the new me really only had one good one anyway and warming up is for wusses. We played through some moments, checked out the room, and ambled downstairs for coffee and lousy sandwiches. There were people wanting to talk to me, and Zoe needed to nurse, and things were a little chaotic, but I wasn’t stressed anymore, just aware that there was nothing more I could do to prepare.

Once we got on, though, and I was out in front of the crowd, I didn’t just limp through anything. It was there. The old feeling, the skill – I could even tongue again, all of a sudden. I had the audience right where I wanted them and made a great performance. As if the last six months of my life had never happened, I could channel the music through my body and give it away freely and openly, and I could communicate with Paul and with the audience and fifty minutes passed for me like ten. This for me is the magic – when we’re in the moment and doing it, and everything else falls away so it’s just me and my colleagues and the music and the audience and I know exactly what I’m doing and what to do next and it’s also as though I’m not really doing anything because it’s so easy. The music is coming not from me but through me, and radiating outward to share with everyone. They responded, too. Apparently I was good. I was.

It’s such a rush, and it’s why I’m willing to struggle through the weeks of additional work that such a performance entails, and why I force myself to step away from the baby and practice when I can. I need to allow myself the opportunity to succeed this well. This kind of work is what I do, and what makes me me. It’s what I want to share with my students, and with my audiences, of course, and with Zoe. She should see that I can be there for her and can do what I love also. This I can do.

My next recital is the same material, but three weeks better prepared. Great music by Telemann, Dring, and Pasculli

Saturday, February 13, at 2pm
St James Chapel, 831 N. Rush St, Chicago
Free and open to the public.

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