Why did I say I’d do this?
The Steinway looms at the front of the room. I know it’s waiting to devour my fumbling fingers whole. Why did I think I needed performance experience?
“Thank you, Christopher, nicely done,” says Ann, the lovely teacher. “Joan, your turn.”
Ack! Why did I say I’d do this?
I clench my books in my hand. They’re really more of a security blanket. I know the pieces cold.
Don’t I? Ack!
Did I really honest-to-god say I’d do THREE pieces?
What HAD I thinking been with? Surely not my brain.
Okay, chill, babe. You can do this. You’ve practiced and practiced and practiced some more. You own those pieces. I set myself on the stool, put the music book on the rack and open it to the appropriate page. I address my completely sympathetic audience of seven other adult students and their guests.
“Tonight I’m going to play three pieces. The first is Bouree in A minor by Christoph Graupner.”
The first two bars (eight notes) go smoothly-ish. Oh no, that was supposed to be a B flat, not a B natural. Keep going. GACK!
I grin sheepishly at the audience. “Let’s pretend that never happened.” I get a good chuckle out of them and begin again. Oh, yes, this is SO amusing.
This time it’s worse, so much worse. My fingers are trembling so badly, they won’t do a thing I tell them. Their memory has vanished. A few bits come out the way they’re supposed to–just a few. It’s the longest minute-and-a-half of my entire life.
I want to flee the room in ignominy. But I have two more pieces to go.
“My second piece is Minuet in C major by Johann Wilhelm Hassler.” Try saying that with the correct German accent when you can barely speak.
Okay, babe, pull yourself together. Take a deep breath and release to a count of 5-4-3-2-1. Go.
Slow and steady to start. Hit the G. Yes, that’s good. Pick up speed. F sharp. Oh yeah, baby. Slow it down again. Now the fun bit. Watch those tricky chords. YES! PERFECT! I OWNED THAT! The fastest minute of my life.
One more piece to go.
“My last piece is Celebration by Anne Crosby. I’d like to dedicate this piece to our teacher Ann because she helps us all to celebrate the music within.”
Take a deep breath and release to a count of 5-4-3-2-1. Go.
Easy peasy beginning. Danger, danger, finger twisting section ahead. Ack! Repeat the easy bit. Ack! More chords, hand-over-hand this time. Do the last two bits over again. Easy repeat. Final staccato chord. YES! OH YES!
I give the audience a big honking grin. They clap and grin back.
I came, I played, I conquered myself.
“Thank you, Joan. Nicely done recovery. And now we have…”
The next victim of the Steinway–er, performer–rises from her seat.
© Joan Leacott 2012