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?
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.