Friday, April 22, 2011

What Was I So Worried About?!

Yesterday evening was our church's Maundy Thursday service. It's a beautiful evening of music and reflection, and our worship director usually pulls in other musicians to help add to the event. So I wasn't surprised when she approached me last Sunday and handed me some music to look at for the flute choir for Thursday. When I looked at it, however, I was a bit surprised at the level of difficulty and the intricacies...were we really going to pull this off on the fly for Thursday?!

She asked me to come early on Thursday evening to rehearse with the flute choir, which I agreed to do, but I left church feeling a little nervous about getting my accompaniment together before then.

The following days saw me spending a considerable amount of time working on the piece. Every spare minute found me at the piano. I meticulously copied the music, cut out the piano line and pasted it together onto 4 pages so I'd have less page turns. I worked with the metronome, gradually increasing my speed so I was certain I'd be able to keep up with the quartet. And while I wasn't worried about any other aspect of the service, I was pretty anxious about pulling this piece off!

...Until I arrived at church last night and realized that we weren't playing the piece for the service! In fact, we might not be playing it at all! Basically, Linda had given me the music because this was a piece that the flute choir was considering. Before they made their decision, however, they wanted to run through it once with an accompanist to see how that changed the nature of the piece...I was just an experimental add-on ;) When we did our trial run, I was also surprised (and a bit relieved!) to note that the choir was taking a much slower tempo than the one suggested.

Moral of the story?: I had basically gotten myself all worked up about nothing!

I could cite countless examples like this in my past experience as a musician when I'll get roped into something and literally feel like I'm pulling my hair out to try and get it together, only to realize that I was taking the whole endeavor way too seriously! I just have to laugh at myself and try to remind myself not to take things so seriously in the future.

Can you relate? Do you have any stories to tell about times when you as a musician found yourself 'overly prepared' and guilty of taking a situation way too seriously?! I'd love to hear about it.


  1. Sounds familiar. I have had many similar experiences. Right now I have a student recital in a week and a concert in May where I accompany six pieces with different ensembles. The problem is I will be out of town for 2 1/2 weeks in May unable to practice. I am worrying that all the practice I do know won't stick. Oh well, we only can do our best.

  2. I played for our Good Friday service and Thursday night one of the vocalists from another church called me and said that her pianist wouldn't be able to be there. So at 8:30 PM Thursday night I got the music for the octavo she was going to sing. It was a 10 page arrangement! It really put my sightreading to the test, and I only had 5 minutes the next morning to practice with the vocalists. But we pulled it off and it went well. I did make a few tiny mistakes, thankfully the kind that no one would notice unless they knew the music. :)

  3. Thank you so much for sharing your own experiences! I think that as musicians flexibility and the ability to roll with the punches is one of the most important skills we can have. I've had so many experiences like this over the years and each one teaches me how to be a more flexible musician and become a better sightreader! ;)