I spent the better part of a year preparing my flute solo music for my recent recital. This was a very big deal to me. After last years’ recital I bought a digital camcorder so I can video and post my performances on YouTube. I had a beautiful piece of music that I loved. I was prepared. Ready to go. Polished and confident. I played, as is usual for me, without being nervous.
And I was disappointed, which brings me to my thoughts for today. How often do we perform and then spend the next minutes, hours, days and sometimes more criticizing ourselves for every little thing that didn’t go as we wanted it to? Why do we do this to ourselves? Why can’t we just be happy with what went right, and move forward? I don’t have the answer.
In spite of my “after-thoughts” I am going to post the video for the world to see. It’s not my best performance of the piece. I started too slowly, and that left me gasping for air in the middle of phrases I KNEW I could play without a breath. Of course, that led to mental distraction. I forgot to maintain good posture in my arms and legs. I forgot to maintain a nice round inner mouth. I forgot to hold my shoulders back and stand tall. I got in a hurry afterward and didn’t take enough time to acknowledge my audience. I look at the video and see an old hunched lady (“why are my shoulders so round? and when did I get so old???–I don’t FEEL that old….usually”). “OW! that note cracked! Oh, dear, I KNOW I can play that phrase without fumbling my fingers! How can I be so BAD after almost EIGHT YEARS!?”
Yeah. If you’ve ever played in a recital, this should sound pretty familiar. The details may be a bit different, maybe it’s your hair, or your outfit….We can all find things about ourselves to criticize.
So what’s my point? It’s this:
1. Forget about yourself, get over it. It’s about sharing, not about perfection.
2. Be happy with the fact you had the courage to get up there and DO IT.
3. Remember there will be other opportunities, and every time will be different.
4. Be willing to accept praise from your listeners. They are looking for your success, not your failure.
5. Focus on what you did RIGHT, and then praise yourself for those things, even if it’s just that you walked up there and didn’t faint or quit!
So here it is, in all it’s imperfection and flaws….my performance of the “Hamburg Sonata in G major,” first movement, by CPE Bach. It’s a lovely piece of music which isn’t played often enough, and in my humble opinion, like the “Minute Waltz” – usually played too fast to let the listener enjoy.