As I hope your experiences support, the holidays are filled with parties, family dinners, and various musical opportunities, and with any group event comes a certain degree of collaboration. Sometimes these events can seem like chaos. Turkeys are brined, stuffing is stuffed, salads are tossed, rolls are baked... all too much for one person.
In an ideal collaboration, each person has a job matched to his or her interests and abilities. In times of chaos, we lose this strategy in the tornado of food and drink, and it is far too easy to feel abandoned on the sidelines as your unused brining prowess atrophies. My point? Jump in and offer your skills.
"Mom, sit down! I'll mash the potatoes!"
Because my mashed potatoes are awesome.
To extend the metaphor, I encourage you to find a way to mash the potatoes in your musical ventures over the next year.
Reflect on your own strengths and offer them proudly. Design posters, network, arrange music, coordinate schedules, lead rehearsals, program for your target audience, inspire invested performances, entertain.
I'll mash the potatoes.
"Technically, you played it correctly..."
"Technically, everything was right..."
"Technically, it was fine..."
This post goes out to the several people over the past month who have asked me what to do when they've technically done it all. You know who you are, and you're not alone.
I have previously referred to this performance trend as "playing apologetically."
This can take many forms:
As impolite as it sounds, what if we didn't apologize?
If no one wanted to hear you, they wouldn't be there. Even for "mandatory" school-related events, each and every audience member has chosen to listen to you perform instead of sitting on their respective couches ordering pizza and marathoning Netflix.
What if we didn't apologize for that? What if, instead, we made it really and truly worth their while? We are all at least as interesting as another streamed episode of Law and Order or Gossip Girl.
Sometimes I also think of this difficulty as "being camera shy." Shyness is about
hiding, and in music this can be physically hiding behind our music stand or
instrument. More often, though, it means emotionally hiding behind the ink on
the page, rather than presenting what we actually believe about a piece and its
For the sake of brevity, here I defer to these cute kids in this Dove commercial:
When did you stop thinking you're worth hearing?
Throw away whatever hides you.
Show off for the camera.