I did my self-directed and promoted first year recital. Lots of people came. The venue was wonderful. The service was friendly and quick. The pizza was delicious. Everyone was in a great mood, conversation was active, people mingled, and it was like a party.
I did what I said I’d do. I played 20 songs in 20 minutes. I did a couple classical pieces, some Celtic music, Irish music, American fiddle tunes, a couple of pop songs, and even “Twinkle, Twinkle” just for the heck of it.
That’s the good part. Now here is the rest.
If I’d stopped at 8 or 9 minutes it would have been fine. If I’d stuck to the handful of songs I could really pull off, it would have been modestly impressive. If I’d left them wanting more it would have been good.
But I’d reached too far. In my desire to perform virtually every song I knew I’d stretched myself, and my audience too thin. I forgot a basic truism. Leave them wanting more. I’d gone and given them the whole kitchen plus the sink, garbage disposal, and compost. Plus, a solo first-year violinist playing for 20 minutes without an accompanist is a bit much for anyone.
I should have listened to my teacher. She told me to only perform those pieces I felt really good about playing. She was right. Unfortunately, she and I haven’t been able to get together for six weeks. She has been on tour in Europe and when she returned her health took a nosedive and she’s been quite ill. Although we’d planned to get one or two lessons in before my recital, we were reduced to emails and text messages. She wasn’t well enough to come to my recital. Although she cautioned me about doing all these songs I didn’t listen.
So that’s it. Bad timing, circumstances beyond anyone’s control, and a little hubris can warp the mirror.
Alas, this wasn’t the triumph I’d presumed it would be. I didn’t feel the wash of thunderous applause. Flowers were not tossed to the stage, agents didn’t come begging me to sign contracts, there were no recording deals, and my tactful audience was gracious, and honest. They were polite in their comments. Indeed, I did not hear the phrase, “That was good,” and if I had, I wouldn’t have believed it. I knew it didn’t go as completely as I’d assumed it would go.
So how does a person bounce back from something like that? How does a person deal with an experience that did not evolve as assumed and hoped? How do people get through bad reviews?
Just let time pass. It will hurt for a little while, but not forever. This isn’t the end of the world. As the great British actor, John Gielgud once said, “A bad review will ruin your breakfast, but not your lunch.”
Feel free to lick your wounds for a little while, but don’t get obsessive about it.
I spent the rest of the afternoon and the evening drowning myself in two ice cream bars, and a bowl of popcorn while binge watching reruns of Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Why not? If this wasn’t a great excuse to blow off my diet, I don’t know what is. This might have been a great time to get loopy, but I don’t like drugs. Marijuana? Forget it. I just get paranoid and sleepy, so what’s the point in that? It’s little more than an expensive nap as far as I’m concerned. While I do like a glass of wine, I learned long ago that drinking alcohol when feeling down is a really bad idea.
I’ll stick to ice cream and popcorn.
It’s now the next morning, and I’m fine. In the long run it’s just a matter of perspective. There is little to be gained from Monday morning “what if’s” and so on. Simply learn from what happened and move forward.
Also remember – while it may have been a big deal in my own head, to my audience it was only part of the experience of meeting some great people, having some laughs, and listening to a little music for 20 minutes while waiting for the pizza to arrive. Not a bad way to kill a couple of hours.
So, for the next time:
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