Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Morning After- Dealing With Performances Which Don't Go Your Way.


 UNLV's Saxophone Studio Recital was last night and, well.....

....things could have gone better on my end.

I walked off stage feeling as if my performance of Ibert's Concertino da Camera would have Jacques spinning in his grave for a few days. I did the right things as far as stage etiquette: Smiled, acknowledged my collaborative pianist, bowed....but...

inside I was screaming "WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!"

I walked off stage, into the green room, and just sunk my head into my hands. I was nauseous, I wanted to cry, I wanted to apologize to the audience for what they had to endure.

So what happened?

This is new territory for me.....not having an off performance, but the reason why. I had almost paralyzing performance anxiety last night. I couldn't breath. My hands were shaking so badly that they almost fell off the horn.

I'm the same guy who, at concerto competition finals back at my alma mater just 18 months ago, was winking at his accompanist in the middle of a performance and was on stage to remind everyone else that they were competing for second place. I OWNED the stage.

Now, my current performance anxiety issue isn't the point of this blog. That's a journey for Mark McArthur (my major professor) and me to navigate. The point is, things didn't go the way I wanted them to and you know what?

The sun still rose this morning.

So, what do you do in a situation like this? It's time to work things out in your head...

WAS IT AS BAD AS YOU (or in this case, I ), thought?
Probably not. In fact, if memory serves, the lyrical sections from last night were actually pretty darned good.

It doesn't even define you for the rest of the week. No one remembers the games where Michael Jordan went 2-20. They remember the games where he dropped 50 points on someone. This is a journey. This likely won't be your last performance.

What happened? WHY did it happen? Is there a pedagogical thing which can be done to lessen the chance of it happening again? Were you simply not prepared? Were you being stubborn about some things. In my case, though I knew better, one of the problems was that the back of my mind had be set on playing the work at the suggested performance tempo because I'm a grad student and I should be able to do that, right? WRONG. I'd only had the piece for a month or so and only gotten three rehearsals with my pianist.

Listen with peers and/or your teacher after the wounds have subsided a bit. Allow yourself to be objective.

We're all going to have bad days at the office. We're all going to be sickened by them. What we cannot allow is for a bad performance to become an anchor which continually weighs us down. Shake it off, pick yourself up, and promise yourself that the next one will be better.

This is a journey. If you journey far enough you'll have your fair share of bumps and bruises. The journey makes those scars worth it, though.

My next solo performance will have jaws on the floor. I promise you that. More importantly, I promise ME that.

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