Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Love is stronger than fear.

I am very tired, so I'm not sure how much sense this will make, but I want to write it down before I go to sleep as tomorrow is busy and I won't have a lot of time to reflect.

I played in a concert today. The repertoire was chamber music that I love, the venue was a beautiful church.

As late as this morning I felt deeply ambivalent about playing. One or two people I'd hoped would be able to attend could not and I was feeling a bit forlorn and sorry for myself, but I don't think that was the main issue. I've been working with these musicians for about a year, and they are fine players, but at times all three of us lack organisation and initiative, and that makes for a bumpy ride. I've been feeling annoyed at the pianist over a number of administrative things for a while now. Yesterday's rehearsal was somewhat fraught, both in terms of musical issues which I thought had been resolved ages ago, and in terms of some of the details of what was to happen today. We were all tired, which never helps, and can be worrying the day before a concert. This morning I felt that we should be able to do better but that I didn't know how to raise the bar, how to get this trio of ours to rehearse and organise to the standard I think we're capable of rather than one that would be okay. I knew the concert would be okay but I want to do better than 'okay'. The music is worth doing better than 'okay'.

Today's concert went better than expected. To begin with I was in a very nit-picky frame of mind. I did try to relax and get past all the stress and irritation but was having quite a hard time doing so and remained rather vexed until the violinist made a mistake she has never made before, at which point something in me seemed to shatter and all the irritation and anxiety melted away and somehow I got on with loving the music, my fellow musicians and the audience, which is really what I'm there for... I don't really have the right words to explain it properly, but I have previously found that the difference between performances I enjoy and performances I don't is something along those lines, and it does seem to come across to the listener in at least some cases. There seems to be an element of it in practising as well, though it's a lot easier to tailor my practising to how I'm feeling that day than it is a public performance!

I don't know if anyone noticed any audible difference today, of course, and I don't think technical aspects of my playing changed much, but it was interesting to experience that sort of perspective shift so abruptly in the middle of playing, like winter turning to summer in about half a second but with less confusion, or a loved one walking into the room smiling. To put it in bluntly theist terms, it felt like God smiling, and my own playing and my own feeling toward music, players and audience was a natural response to that smile, that love, a prayer with no words, just Brahms.

It's so much easier, and so much more rewarding, to make music from that perspective than from the fear-driven perspective.

I hope to learn to get to that point more consistently... though I have a feeling it's mostly about creating the right conditions, making a sort of mental space where that can happen, and then getting out of the way and letting things happen or not. There are probably techniques I can use to help things along but ultimately it doesn't feel like a process that I can control by sheer will, more a blessing to be hoped for and to be grateful for.

There were some good comments from musicians in the audience but I didn't have time to chat properly as I had to run off and teach. It will certainly make for an interesting discussion with my own teacher at the next lesson; an advantage of having studied with him for so long is that we can discuss things like this, which I think are more important in some ways than the technical issues (I can fix those by logic and practice, though of course it's faster to consult with people who can be more objective and have more experience) and can sound rather off-the-wall and irrational. And maybe it is irrational, but if music were entirely rational we'd get machines to do it.

Maybe I'm just trying to add meaning to something that really isn't so significant.

Or maybe I'm too tired to make much sense and should revisit this topic when I've had some sleep.

Or maybe love is stronger than fear.


Jan said...

I like your last maybe. . . .I don't know much about music, but I liked reading about your thoughts, worries, and insights. That you felt God smiling is beautiful. I'm glad.

Song in my Heart said...

I like that last 'maybe' too. It does seem to be a theme in my life recently, I keep getting reminded of it in various situations.