Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Vulnerability of Performance

 A few days ago my students and I participated in a piano recital. There is something so very vulnerable about playing the piano in front of a crowd. I have been doing it since I was eight but yet every solo performance I have a moment of wanting to back out, even to this day. 

  There are so many facets of our selves which are in view when we perform. Not only is our physical agility evident but our ability to focus, our gift to express feelings through music, and our self-consciousness is open for all to see. 
"Why would you choose to perform if it is so unpleasant?", my son asked. 
  Now that is such a great question. Perhaps it is that when we can open ourselves up whole-heartedly to the music we have come to live and breathe, it is an amazing high.

   During rehearsal M., age 5, balked as I explained that I wanted him to tell the audience his name and the names of his pieces. 
    "I can't," he said, "I'm shy." 
     It was his first recital so I offered to stand with him in front of the group. 
     "It wasn't that bad." he said after with a broad grin. 

   There in a nutshell is the reason to perform frequently. We can learn that our fears are not that real. Coming through a gut-wrenching experience can build hope that we are growing and changing. If we falter the lesson is still important. Perhaps we should have prepared better, or perhaps we learned that life goes on after a stressful event, or best, that we made music come alive and people enjoyed it.

   For the teacher, sitting on the sidelines, the event is emotional. I know too well what could happen. I see their legs shake, their hearts race, and their hands stiffen with cold. I send them bushels of love and hold them together with teacher energy. Then I clap and whisper that they were fabulous and feel privileged to know them in their most vulnerable hour.  It is exhausting, but so worth the effort.

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