Fight or flight

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: Write about your strongest memory of heart-pounding, belly-twisting nervousness: what caused the adrenaline? Was it justified? How did you respond?

From by user Modnar.

From by user Modnar.

The strongest memory of heart-pounding, belly-twisting nervousness? That’s easy.

I love playing my piano. Over the years I’ve played in various venues: recitals, juries, weddings, church. I was never a good public piano player. Talk about gut wrenching. My other failure, besides fear of playing in public, is that I never learned to play through my mistakes, which makes it all the worse.

My first memorial lapse, as a teenager, was in front of a small group of people – including my parents – in the middle of Rhapsody in Blue. I loved that tune, and I practiced it for hours every day. Hours. Yet put me in front of a number of people, and I’ll stumble through it. It was my unfortunate luck that my mouth wasn’t duct taped, because during one stumble I muttered the word “F**k” – a word that was heard by everyone in the small room. As I was still a teenager, my parents didn’t let that slide by.

Then I went to a small university – a university with a world-renowned music school. As an added benefit, I could take music lessons at the music college. The drawback? I had to perform in front of a jury of music professors at the end of each school year. Boy, did I dread this! Whatever I’d learned that year quickly flew out of my fingers and head when I sat down at the piano. Why did we have to go through with this?

Later, I was asked to perform at a wedding. Hours and hours of practice. And to top it off, it was hot out. I sweat a lot anyways – talk about sweating it out! Everything went smoothly – except for one note. Does anyone remember the remainder of my perfect playing? To be honest, probably no one except the bride and groom’s parents remember. It was a favor to the groom’s family that I was playing – and I still couldn’t get it right!

Once in a while, I play at church services. And you know what? The congregation doesn’t care if I make a mistake! It’s no wonder I don’t mind playing for them. I do get nervous, but when you know people appreciate you whether or not you hit every note, what a difference it makes.

5 thoughts on “Fight or flight

  1. Isn’t that so true about playing for church. When our son was growing up I think church was the first group of people he played for. He played trumpet and French horn. And they were also the first people he sang for. He went on to become the cantor at the largest Catholic church in Ogden for six years. It’s just as you said. It’s so nice to be appreciated just because you’re willing to use your gifts that way.

    Liked by 1 person

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