Tuesday, May 2, 2017

          The days and weeks after a performance are always filled with mixed emotions. The most exhilarating, of course, is knowing you did the very best you could, and that “my best” was “good enough.” For me, “good enough” is a huge victory, as that label is always elusive. We creative types are our worst critics. and musicians are probably among the worst. My teachers expected perfection as did my beloved father, and that is a goal I finally gave up all-too-few years ago. It has been a little over two weeks since my last performance (the one in front of two, count’em two concert pianists.) I have gone from “Whew!” to”Ugh” to “What’s next?” In the meantime, I have played, not practiced. I have walked by my beautiful white grand piano and not felt one ounce of guilt that I hadn’t put in the time working on some measure that just wouldn’t jive. I sit down daily and “play.” When I “play” now, it’s playing

like a little kid with no goal, no purpose—-just to fool around at the keys and listen to the pretty sounds. It’s with a feeling of freedom and a sense of joy that I plunk around trying this and that, even experimenting with some new holiday arrangements I found online. Ah, the sweet scent of planting seeds and not worrying about whether they will grow.

     On the other hand, there is the question of hands. I never have nice nails, as they always have to be so short to play that I don’t really even look at them unless they start clicking on the keys. Guess what? I have nails. Wow. They are kind of pretty. Maybe I will just let them grow for a month while we travel out west. I can hike in long nails, and I can even get them painted to match my backpack.  

     I digress. Hands:  take a look at these below. Those male hands are those of Sergei Rachmaninov, my next challenging story. Sergei was a very tall man (6’6”), and his handspan is said to have been able to reach a 14th. I can barely reach an octave (8 keys). Is old Sergei’s music going to be a challenge for me? You betcha. Take a look at a few measures. What was he thinking? We aren’t all giants, after all.


His story is so fascinating, though, I will tackle it as perhaps “my last musical hurrah.” He had no mistresses, unfortunately, as that is my schtick—telling the love story of the man and his Muse. He did have a couple of emotional relationships, however, and I am researching those in my spare time. 


     Coming up on my 74th birthday in another couple of months, I say thank you prayers that my hands don’t hurt, they are not stiff, and I can still play with some agility. My days are numbered, though, as I see a finger or two start to distort. I know that God’s wonderful gift has an expiration date, and who knows when that is? So, I will write one more script, tell one more story, play one more small sampling of a great composer’s gift to the world. Rachmaninov is my absolute favorite composer. His music is so moving, so dramatic, so romantic—if you are human, you will be moved immediately. The music will be the most difficult I have played, but the reward will be worth every ounce of sweat. 

      So what’s this got to do with you, my loyal readers? I suppose it’s a wake-up call. Have you challenged yourself recently with something you’ve always wanted to do but never took the time or effort to try? Will you be able to tackle such a challenge five, ten years from now? Why wait? Take tiny steps. When I began working on my one-woman show three years ago, I told myself, “Just practice 5 minutes a day.” Yup, just five minutes. That’s how I started. As I continued, I never forced myself to practice any specific amount of time because then it would become a job not a joy. I already had jobs, and I was done with those. This was for fun. Was it hard work too? Of course, eventually, but even at the deadlines, I never pushed myself into dreading the process. It was always inspiring, exhilarating and fun. The applause was icing on the cake; I was savoring the cake all the way up to the frosted flowers.

          I know what some of you are saying. “When will I have time for that?” “I don’t really have the talent.” Bah. Excuses. We all have some kind of talent, and we can all take five minutes a day to pursue a dream. What’s yours?