Wednesday, November 29, 2006

In the Moment

As performers, one of our most common mistakes is giving up the moment too soon. People talk about living and being "in the moment," and the experience of a live musical performance is special because it is precisely that: it is in the moment. And yet, as performers, we must prepare in advance for the moment. Furthermore, we must sustain belief in the moment even after it has passed. If you give up "the moment" too soon--if your shoulders drop, if you scratch your nose, if you break your posture even the slightest bit--the audience will not believe or experience "the moment" that is actually contained within this framework of preparation and suspension.

A piano teacher once put it another way. She drew sets of parentheses on either side of a note: ( ) [quarter note] ( ). She said very seriously, "Heather, your work is entirely in the parentheses. There is all of this," and she circled her pencil in that hollow space between the first set of parentheses, "and there is all of this," and she pointed to the interior of the second set of parentheses, "and that is your job. What you do in the parentheses is what sets you apart. What you do in the time before and after is what determines whether this arrangement of notes works, if it convinces your listener, musically speaking. The actual note?" She shrugged, "The notes take care of themselves." My lesson ended early that day. At the time I did not appreciate why. Thinking back, and remembering it as if it were just yesterday, I realize this was one of the most profound lessons of my entire life.

Maybe the moment will take care of itself. It is the past and the future that need more of my attention.


A valuable lesson, indeed. Thank you for sharing.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:07 AM  

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