Sunday, March 13, 2011

This is the part I hate the worst: waiting behind the curtain, listening to the hub-bub of the audience, and all of us waiting for the cue that starts the show.

I used to go all to pieces even thinking about a concert a week beforehand. I existed with a queasy stomach, jelly legs, and a cotton mouth. Warm-up the day of, lasting upwards of 3 hours, completely sapped my courage and strength. I used to do the concert on fear alone.

These days, I don't even have the concert at the back of my mind until the day before, other than scheduling it on my calendar. Warm-up and tune-up takes maybe 90 minutes, if that. I don't get nervous until we are lined up behind the curtain, with all the last minute mistakes and stage directions and Things I Must Remember Throughout This Concert And It Will Be Great-- up to and including the 3 Fs: Focus, watch the PM's Foot, and have Fun (which 3things sometimes cannot exist simultaneously)-- spinning around and around in my head. At this point, I have to really concentrate to force the Queasy Energy up out of my stomach, past my esophagus, and down my arms into my fingers, where it miraculously turns into muscle memory. Then my fingers play the concert, and I don't even have to think about the individual notes.

Then the curtain opens, the lights knife through the blackness, and we move out along its golden path into the Moment of the concert.

I'm sure that, for the audience, the time passes at the usual rate. For me, playing, it takes about 10 minutes per half, and then we are done: 7:30 to 9:00 in 20 minutes.

This year, tuning was minimal. Everybody must have done their Pipe Maintenance (checked for loose joints, replaced their chanter tape and tuned themselves up) beforehand, because Jason only tuned chanters once, and drones twice. The rest of the time we worked on staging, and ate. Dinner was provided by Dr. Rob.

Thanks for the sushi, Dr. Rob! Thanks for the cookies, Sister Shrum!

Thanks for the Pipe Maintenance, everybody!

I think I made about 4 mistakes during the concert when my focus slipped momentarily. Very slippery thing, Focus, especially when you are having a hard time keeping that Queasy Energy down in your fingers. But either Jason didn't notice, or he didn't mention it. I am grateful for either.

My husband, my brother and 75% of my children were in attendance, to say nothing of my friend-and-supervisor, Lori and her whole family. This is no excuse for being nervous.

But it all turned out well in the end. The audience was entertained, if not delighted. Lori was suitably impressed, and my brother was happy that I had known it was him yelling, "Wa-hoo" out of the darkness of the seats.

Resolved: to practice every day, either practice chanter, or pipes--or both--so that I will improve my playing and get that march memorized and perfected for the June competitions.

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