Tenderness

195678.mints

This last Sunday, I performed for a church service. 

This isn’t the first time I have done so, and I’m certain it won’t be my last…I’ve been performing since I was two years old. However, this time, I wasn’t prepared. 

Lately, I’ve been writing my own music…or arranging my own music. Either way, it’s not just a simple task when someone asks me to play…which is fine, because I really enjoy writing music. I usually go into a few days of meditation until inspiration strikes and then I begin writing. Depending on the piece, one arrangement can take anywhere from four hours to a week to write. I had a month…plenty of time. And, I was excited because this particular Sunday’s pieces were to celebrate Love. I quickly found the pieces I wanted to perform and set to arranging them.

Then I was blessed with several other opportunities to play during Christmas week, and suddenly I was swamped with writing music, traveling to rehearsals, rehearsing, and then performing. The pieces for Love Sunday had taken a back burner, and I quickly realized that I now only had a week to finish them and rehearse them with my accompanist. After a few rehearsals, it was clear they weren’t going to go well, but it was too late to pick other pieces. By the time Sunday morning arrived, I was exhausted…and ill tempered due to my lack of preparedness. 

As I sat in the church amongst the other musicians performing for the carols and hymns, I felt anxiety rise within me. I turned to the musician to my right…a dear friend from music school, and an amazing musician.

“Do you want to do the solo numbers?” I asked.

“What?” he asked, surprised.

“Please?!” I pleaded.

“Why?” he asked.

“I’m just not prepared. I haven’t practiced enough, and the pieces are filled with flubbed passages.”

He thought for a moment, then offered, “How about I do a drone and dance a jig to distract them?”

“That would be great!” I replied, and couldn’t help but giggle.

Just then, one of the musicians passed a bag of spearmint candy. I absent-mindedly passed it on to my friend on my right. He took it, looked closely at me, and asked me if I wanted one. I politely declined. It was time for the prayer.

I closed my eyes, grateful for an excuse to meditate. I began yoga breathing: four counts in, hold one, four counts out, hold one, four counts in, hold one, four counts out, hold one… As I started to calm down, and began to think more clearly, I remembered some energetic protocols and did some energy work on myself. It took a bit of time, and I expressed gratitude for such a long prayer. By the time the prayer ended, I had come to a place of acceptance of my flawed performance that lay in front of me.

When I opened my eyes, I looked at my music stand in front of me. Tucked into the right edge of the music ledge was a little green spearmint candy. I looked over at my friend, his trumpet already up, ready to play, his eyes avoiding mine. 

“Thanks,” I whispered.

“I didn’t do it,” he feigned, then grinned shyly. 

Then I realized that in my pursuit of perfection I’d forgotten that it didn’t matter if I performed flawlessly…all that mattered is that I played with heart and tenderness.

Thank you friend for your tenderness.

Thank you for reminding me.

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1 Comment

  1. Judy said,

    Sunday, December 30th, 2012 at 8:29 am

    Genuine music is totally heart and tenderness, although not always both at the same time. You have truly found the essence of beautiful music, and that is a precious discovery. 🙂


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