Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Rites of Passage

I am convinced that the writers of Genesis must have been male, because the punishment that Eve gets for eating the fruit from the tree of knowledge (and the privilege of being a woman) is to have pain in childbirth. Many modern women get around this problem through medical procedures, and women who don't participate in the act of childbirth, for whatever reason, never experience their punishment. I believe that if Genesis were written by a woman, the punishment that Eve would get for acquiring wisdom would be to have hot flashes when she reached her fourth or fifth decade, because they are a fact of every woman's life. Most of us suffer in silence. I have never been the silent type.

These "power surges," as one website affectionately calls them, have bee my constant companion for a couple of weeks. They call attention to themselves when I am practicing (and they tend to be partial to difficult passages in keys with lots of accidentals), when I'm trying to sleep, and at varying times during my waking day. They have no regard for what I am doing or what I am wearing, and they seem to want to keep company with me when I have a cup of tea or coffee, eat spicy food, or when I have a glass of wine (pleasures that I really don't want to give up). They especially like it when I'm feeling creative, like when I sit down to work on writing a piece of music. They haven't invaded my bloggery yet, except for the fact that I'm making this post.

The respect I have for musicians who are women in their 50s who make it through concerts with hot flashes figuratively running on stage and setting their heads on fire has gone up immensely. I'm trying to see some kind of way to be positive about their crazy presence. Perhaps they help make the experience of music making even more multi-dimensional than the experience of of doing it in a personally temperate climate. At least, unlike the weather on the outside, these "power surges" don't affect whatever instrument I'm holding in a negative way, and my personal "power surges" never quite make it all the way to my fingers. But they do blow my mind.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Oh Elaine, I am going through the same thing. I will spare you (and your other readers) the details. But yes, it does affect my ability to concentrate, and that can be disastrous during a performance. Because I am a singer, my body IS my instrument. During a hot flash, I feel that I don't have complete control over my mind, and it's hard to remain still when my first instinct is to stand up and move and fan my burning face with whatever score happens to be in my hand.

Here's where practice becomes more important than ever, eh? We know that practice gives us physical memory for how a piece should be played or sung; well, this develops in singers, too, with the entire vocal musculature. So...I am really focusing these days on committing my music to my "muscle memory" so that when a hot flash enwraps me onstage, I can continue on auto-pilot until it has passed.

And then there are the memories of the solo recital I sang in when I was seven months pregnant and my baby (just started COLLEGE!) decided to dance along as I sang... Oh boy. .... The night she was born, when she was just a few hours hold, I sang that song to her, very quietly....well, she KNEW it. I could see it in her little face, as she listened with intense concentration and her eyes fixed on my face...she was six hours old. Music. Music.