November 1, 2008 at 6:41 AMWhat scares you?
All this Halloween day long, I haven't felt terribly scared. Halloween is a U.S. holiday where kids dress up and troll the neighborhood at night for candy and a good scare.
I made chili and cornbread, helped 20 third graders decorate tiny pumpkins and make caramel apples. I helped my kids assemble their costumes: Indiana Jones for the boy and something like this for the girl. We walked the neighborhood, which included some gruesome displays: tombstones with skeletons emerging beneath; giant, glowing purple spiders crawling up walls, and by far the worst: a house with BOTH McCain and Obama signs in their yard, and with both presidential candidates standing right out front, giving candy. (Also they were giving Irish whiskey and white wine to parents, but I didn't partake.)
Are you scared yet?
So I thought I would make up a list of scenarios that VIOLINISTS would find scary. You can enhance these, too, in the comment section below. Use your imagination, that's important for fear. What would be THE most scary violin situation you can devise?
Most performing nightmares involve not being able to find my violin, or the stage. But usually when I actually play in my dreams, I can play better than real life.
My own permanent nightmare is getting poked in the eye by someone else's bow. That's why I always wear my specs when playing in a group, even though I don't really need them to read the music. Plus they give the feeling of hiding behind something, thus offering some psychological protection.
It was one we switched out for festival with Bachanale...
I fore some reason can't remember the name. It was full orchestra and had lots of crazy percussion... Can't believe I don't remember.
But the hardest one to play out of all those was In The Fading Light of Autumn because the violin solo was the first thing that introduced the song.
I'm up on stage, having to play chamber music, and I haven't rehearsed the part. In fact, I haven't even SEEN it before.
We sit down as the applause dies out, the audience in waiting. I pick up the violin and get ready to play. I stare at the score - it's easy to the point of being elementary, a largo senza moto with a lot of whole notes, no sharps nor flats - but I just don't get it.
I fumble and fake, trying to make sense of the music as my companions play ahead. I'm panicked and terrorized, and I don't know what to do; the next movement is an Allegro, and it's approaching...
I finally wake up in my bed in a cold sweat, relieved that it was just a dream, um, a nightmare.
The first time I had this dream I was in the picturesque Hotel Post in Mittenwald (Bavaria), and I think the hotel maitre played some kind of trick on us because we were brought wayyyyy to much food to eat. Goulaschsuppe and winener schnitzel, to be precise. I did my part and the waiter was impressed. But, later that night, in my dreams, all that food came back to haunt me in the form of this nightmare, returning even now, 22 years later.
I guess that was REALLY a lot wiener schnitzel!
I was late to an orchestra concert and had to run in the back door and get out my violin and tune up really quickly. When I opened my case, ALL of my strings were unraveling and rusting, for some reason, and I didn't have any spares.
Sightreading R. Strauss is definitely up there. Especially with a conductor who knows this, and nevertheless decides it is the perfect time to pick on the violins (another true story!).
The worst experience I've had so far was when my teacher was gone for a month on tour with her orchestra in Japan, and a new colleague of hers at the music school filled in. I was really nervous before the lesson, then I get there and find that the teacher is a rather large and intimidating, rough-looking and rough-speaking Ukranian guy who has trouble communicating and speaking in German (I'm in Germany). Throughout the lesson he was rather hands-on instead of communicating with words - grabbing the scroll of my violin and shoving it upwards, grabbing my bow arm and pulling it roughly downwards making it impossible for me to draw it straight across the strings and creating a rather horrible screetch, or grabbing my violin to demonstrate without any warning and without asking. Throughout the lesson he kept asking me, "Warum bist du so ängstlich?" "Why are you so nervous?" Hmmm...I wonder. It was with much trepidation and something close to dread that I went to the next lesson, but thankfully the teacher completely changed tactics, and that lesson, as well as the others until my regular teacher returned, went quite well. Actually, I'm almost quite glad that I had this teacher, because now when I play in front of anyone I can tell myself - it can't be as bad as the first lesson with Albert the Ukranian.
but a real nightmare would be to fall over and smash your violin - on the stage in front of the audience
That article about the Australian Nat'l Academy of Music losing funding scares the living daylights out of me!
One of my scariest nightmares actually did come true once!
My biggest audition to date - I don't sleep a wink of sleep the night before (because my sister was sick and up coughing the entire night), I arrive an hour or so early to warm up and rehearse with my pianist who is no where to be found and unavailable by phone. It's 10 minutes before my audition and my pianist finally arrives (there were accidents on the road and she was delayed). I have hardly played in weeks due to a hand injury, I'm not properly warmed up and we just kind of crash through the trickier spots in the few we have left to us.
I played my biggest audition.
Well, I had a surreal dream last night. Not quite a nightmare, but not all that fun. I dreamed I was visiting a violin shop in the Midwest (that shall remain nameless, mainly because I was really there this past summer, and they also did fabulous work on Guido, my violin. They were all really nice, so go figure) to try out violins. I was trying to play a violin that one of the owners had made, but the bow the shop provided me to use with was really heavy, like a bass bow. I couldn't play the violin at all, and was terribly frustrated.
Oh, woe is me, the "I Am So Insecure, It Is Pathetic" dream. Both owners of the shop started laughing at me! I was in tears.
"But, I can't play with this bow. It is way too heavy. Everything just crunches."
"That is the correct bow. It is your bow arm that is so awful;"
So, they left me standing there, crying, totally upset, no violin to play, but then Clive Owen showed up, and I instantly felt better.
And then, I woke up.
not "use with", but just "use". Sorry.
one of my worst nightmare sis actually rooted in reality. Ove rhte last few yeras there has been a distinct tendency for female orchestral players to wear black dresses that are fixed diagonally across one shoulder leaving the right arm and shoulder bare. With all due respect very few women violnists actually have toned triceps and this is one of the first parts of the anaanatomy to go flobbily wobbily after time ha smarched on a lttle.
My worst nightmare is to see a whole section with the outside player being femal and wearing such a dress. On ocassion it has been very close....
I was in the middle of performing the 4th movement of the Brahms first piano trio with two other students at Caltech when I heard a crash from the piano and the pianist stopped playing. The pedal had fallen completely off the instrument. This was more of a nightmare for the pianist than for me, but he handled it well. They repaired the piano over the intermission and we replayed the 4th movement again afterwards. The next trio group went on following us, and used the same piano without further incident.
My scariest violin nightmare, however, is actually something more subtle: performing and thinking I did okay, wanting honest feedback and hoping at least some of the feedback is positive or at least constructive. And then having people just avoid me and avoid talking about it at all. And finding out much later that they didn't think it was very good but didn't want to tell me because they didn't want to hurt my feelings. Being in the situation of having given an embarrassingly bad performance and being the only one in the room who doesn't know it.
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