Monday, April 07, 2008

Being who you are

Maybe the title of this post actually should read "being who I am," but for musicians the difference between who we are on the inside and what we hear in the world outside of us can be the nature of a lot of problems.

Over the past week I have been on a Bolte-Taylor-inspired look at the inside of my brain, and I have spent so much time and energy concentrating on what my weaknesses are, that I have been kind of blind and deaf to my strengths. If too much negative self-evaluation is part of the development of the left part of the brain, I think that I'll pass and just go buzzing along in the merry way that I lead my life and enjoy my unique thought process.

It is so easy for performing and practicing musicians to compare ourselves to other performing and practicing musicians, wondering how it is that someone can manage to play beautifully ALL THE TIME, or wondering how someone can manage to move his or her bow and fingers in ways that seem (and probably are) physically impossible (at least for most people). Most of us know that technical accomplishments on any instrument are usually the result of constant practice, but some people seem to be able to do extraordinary technical and musical things on a minimum of practice. Some people can function really well on very little sleep, and some people can manage to stay in great health without ever eating a single vegetable.

Rather than dwelling on things I can't do, or things I have to do differently from the way other people do them, or things I need assistance to do, I have simply decided to enjoy the things that I can do.

Last night Garrison Keillor came to do a benefit concert for the Champaign-Urbana Symphony, and from the stage I was able to witness well over a thousand people (the place was packed) loving him for what he can do, which, aside from his virtuoso recitation of all the counties in Minnesota, didn't seem to require a great deal of effort. By being completely natural on stage, he is able to give an audience a feeling of comfort. In return the people of the audience feel a great deal of comfort about who they are as individuals, something that is really special, and really important.

At the end of the performance my stand partner (who is in the middle of a week of tremendous overwork) said that she would love to start from the beginning and play the whole concert again.

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