Friday, April 5, 2013

five-minute friday: after

After it all,

the embraces,
the applause,
the music,
the introductions,
the suspense,
the practice,
the silence,

What will be different?
Does a performance change anything, and if so, how?

{It takes hard work, timing, artistry.}

When an audience member leaves, do they remember the notes and articulation? The rubato, the rise and fall of the music, the harmonies? Do they remember their goosebumps and how do you create those, anyway?


Disclaimer from the music teacher in me: Receiving ratings in music have shaped me into the capable, sensitive musician I am today.  Preparation and participation in festival and competition will help establish strong musicianship for anyone who is serious about a life-long pursuit.  Oh, and this post is for FMF.  

A story about just that:

Four and a half years ago, I spent countless hours in a practice room with my piano program of Mozart, Debussy, Ginastera, and the very contemporary Schwantner. Always up for a challenge, I had signed up for a big piano competition (MTNA), I'd be up with other collegiate pianists in the area.  I performed with more heart than any of the other competitors in a low-ceilinged banquet room.  Everyone who mattered told me that, but it didn't matter.

My Debussy was first, with a couple imperfections, I struggled to find the timbres I wanted with the unfit acoustics in that low-ceilinged Hilton ballroom.  Continuing, nervously, and only halfway through the Sonata, with another movement and two other full pieces to follow, the adjudicator rudely interrupted me.  Mid-phrase!  My dad and boyfriend wide-eyed and confused, while my teacher helped me help the adjudicator understand he had misinterpreted his watch. Get back on track you still have time. I searched for the music, playing for my men in the room, still struggling with the acoustics and the passages that needed more practice, feeling slighted and unimportant.

My teacher was angry, my supporters confused.  My performance and hard work was darkly shadowed by the adjudicator's lack of understanding and apology.  I was greeted with apologies, not congratulations.  No, I wouldn't go on to regionals.

Still, there were moments in that performance.  Special, unique moments that I found in the music.  I'm good at those.  Did anyone remember them?  When I choose to study and perform a piece of music, it's because I love it with a passion.  I feel it in my blood and when my eyes tear up.  I love life that passionately, too.  The winners put in several more hours of practice a day than I ever have or will.  It's a fact.  The honorable mention, me, puts more into my relationships, running, dancing, the mountains, living a balanced and spontaneous life.

Can't you hear it in the music?  

After that jarring experience, I knew a life of competition wouldn't be fulfilling.  It won't change lives in the way I want to- there are only a select few in the audience, and there is too far to go.  Maybe it's because I lost- you could deduct that and I wouldn't completely disagree.  It's more, though.  I chose this life of music to make people feel something beyond the day-to-day, because I want to feel that something with them.  To me, when it gets too technical, it's stressful.  It's not lovely, it's not raw, although it may be "perfect."

After all is said and done, I'll be the girl who took the extra hour laughing on the trail.

The one who made music imperfectly with great delight, encouraging others to do the same.

lovely photo via

I miss the piano, those late hours in a practice room.  My keyboard and my 'work' piano, they aren't the same.  I'll return to that classical repertoire this summer, back at Many Glacier.  I'll be a fill-in, playing with love for tourists, children, friends.  No one will be rating me, and that's a good thing.    


  1. Your words make music too, you know. Our imperfections are what make us unique and stand apart from all others. It is His grace that covers all of us that make the harmonies as we merge our lives and make music together! Love this post and the music you have made with your heart here! Visiting from Inking the Heart Blessings!

  2. Argh! The frustration of all that work and being interrupted. And yet, He knew that day would be a game changer didn't He? What a beautiful post - to the inner workings of the musician and the story of what makes us continue on - even when the audience is gone. Thank you for sharing this today.



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