Do you remember the first time you thought your instrument was awesome?
I was a freshman at the University of Georgia, and a doctoral student performed Andre Previn's Sonata for Bassoon and Piano, and I am pretty sure my mouth actually dropped open. I was so nerdishly giggly and head over heels in love. I swore that I would play it "when I was ready" (whatever that meant to 18-year-old Cayla). I didn't even listen to it again for a long time, purely out of fear that in the harsh light of a second listening I would fall out of love.
I did in fact play it later (see a clip from my first doctoral recital here) and will again this coming spring.
It has not been until years later, though, that I realize what actually happened in that moment. I thought the bassoon and its music were awesome. After that performance, I started hearing the potential for awesome in everything. There was a good bit in Saint-Saens, there was some in Mozart, there was a lot in Vivaldi, and most recently there was way more than I expected in Gubaidulina. From that point on, everything new could potentially be knock-me-to-the-floor awesome.
So I'll ask again: do you remember the first time you thought your instrument was awesome?
In addition to being a warm fuzzy and self-assuring sentiment, this realization has motivated me through the tough practice sessions lately. While I've written before about the tools of slow and the dangers of angry practicing, this is even more fundamental. For me, this has been the answer to the "why am I doing this?"
These past few weeks, I have been working on David Maslanka's Sonata. In a break from one particularly tricky section, I wandered my way onto Instagram:
Pouring in the blood, sweat, and tears for the potential of awesome is one thing. For years, that has been enough. Now I realize that I work not only to realize the potential of awesome in a performance, but also to potentially create a moment where someone first realizes that the bassoon and its music are awesome. That music as a whole is pretty awesome.
What if you were the moment someone realized music is awesome?
Now get to it. Go be awesome.