Saturday, December 16, 2006

Cracked Nuts

So, at about 5:30 Thursday night I was making sweet and sour chicken (which turned out kinda yuck, I think) and the phone rings. It was the personnel manager from our city's big symphony. She said, "Laura! Hi! Symphony! Can you play tonight? We're doing the Nutcracker and the Governor is going to be there." Like a big idiot I say, "Sure", threw on my black clothes and ran out the door.

There is never an opening in this symphony, so I auditioned for on-call a couple of years ago. I got it, but hadn't gotten a call until Thursday. My audition was also the last time that I really played piccolo. My picc had half an inch of dust on it (I'm serious) that I brushed off before tossing in my bag, praying that there wouldn't be many piccolo parts. I have never, ever played the Nutcracker before and I was going to be sight reading it at the performance. I am such an idiot. (And it's all piccolo, as it turns out.)

Anyway, I've played at the theater where they were doing it a million times for musicals. It's over one hundred years old and the orchestra pit is really, really small. They had shoved I don't know how many people in the pit for this show. It was the stupidest thing that I had ever seen, not to mention the most uncomfortable I'd ever been (well, playing anyway). I was practically under the director's stand so I could never see his beats, resulting in me getting lost--a lot. I had a viola scroll in my ear and I can't believe that I didn't lose an eye on her bow. I am not kidding. So there was that, coupled with the sheer intimidation of playing with my teacher from grad school and being so close to the director that he could hear every single mistake which made for an evening of magic for me. And then I did it again last night.

I think, for the most part, I did okay. As it turns out, I was much less nervous the night that I was sight reading than the night that I had actually practiced. I think that was because I was putting more pressure on myself last night. But I realized something about myself, I'm afraid. I'm not back to normal and I'm not able to take the pressure that I used to. I didn't fall apart and I only really screwed up one part last night (which in a two hour show isn't bad, I guess), but I wasn't able to focus very well and I was extremely nervous and wasn't able to shake it like I used to. I don't know. It's frustrating, but I'm not sure how much I can do about it right now. So, that's my Nutcracker story. Not that interesting. I do have something more interesting to talk about (I'm not pregnant, that I know of)--I just need to sit down and write it. We have had some major developments here at the K. house and I'm quickly trying to adjust the best I can to the new changes. Which isn't super easy seeing that I'm completely wacka-doo right now, but I'm doing my best. So...more later.


Kathy McC said...

I can totally undertand the nerves over sight reading in front of all those people, and your teacher. I still have nightmares that I have to play in a concert for my high school band teacher and I haven't played or practiced my flute in over ten years. The fear I feel is awful and I wake up in a sweat. Isn't that sad?

Anyway, glad you pulled it off. I am sorry about the anxiety.

Rosepetal said...

I think it's normal - I've lost a lot of self-confidence. I think it's because I see losing Moksha as the biggest failure of my life. Then there's the worry about what people I know might think. Even though I could never think this about someone else who lost a child, I wonder if they're thinking, why is she smiling, how can she have come back to work, what did she do wrong to lose the baby, or just simply thinking every time they see me, that's the woman whose baby died.

Whether it's true or not, that's how I feel. I don't know if you feel the same way, but that's why I think my self-confidence is shot to hell.

BethGo said...

That was very brave of you to do. You must be really talented. I would NEVER be able to just walk in and do it. Of course, I haven't played the flute since age 10 but you know what I mean. I think you should be proud of yourself.
Very cool.

kate said...

Yeah, i also found that after Nicolas died i couldn't take pressure like i used to. I still can't, not totally, but it has gotten much much better. I think it is just something that takes time.

It sounds like you did remarkably well under the circumstances, though!

delphi said...

Yikes! Brave girl. No matter how you played, any musician who sight reads in public with any degree of success is a hero in my books!

Laura said...

Thanks, guys. I feel better. I didn't even sleep last night because I was so upset with myself.
((group hug))

three minute palaver said...

It sounds like you did amazingly well considering the cramped space and short notice. well done.

Jill said...

Good heavens! You are AMAZING! To have to control your breath under those circumstances is remarkable. If the viola player was as nervous as you though, it could have meant a trip to the ER to dig your eye back out. What you did was really very hard and you DID IT. You did it. You'll toughen up with time, but that isn't to say you aren't already extremely tough as it is:)

msfitzita said...

I'm sure you did a wonderful job even though all you can remember is the mistakes.

What I will remember is how incredibly brave you were to go in the first place.