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Second Chances

Krista Moyer

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Published: October 15, 2014 at 3:57 AM [UTC]

A little over a week ago my teacher mentioned to me that there is a festival coming up at the end of the month. The kids attend it each year and are tested on their playing. At any rate, there's a recital at the end for adult students. Only they rarely have any, so usually the high schoolers take part. Oh, and hey, why don't you play something?

I was engulfed with a sick sense of panic. The last time I played in public was at the spring recital. With less than 48 hours notice, I dragged out a piece from Suzuki book three and tried to dust it off. I got exactly one run through with the pianist five minutes before the recital. Almost needless to say, I bombed terribly. If it could go wrong, it did - every shift missed, shaky bow, wrong notes. It was dreadful. At least I didn't cry.

And here we are, five months later, being asked to commit to another public shaming opportunity. However, we don't learn performance without practicing performance; and as an adult, those opportunities are far and few between. With that in mind, I hesitantly said yes, figuring I could probably warm up one of the Seitz movements in time.

Instead, my teacher asked me to pick from something in Suzuki book two. Book two? Really? I'm playing the Vivaldi A minor for heaven's sake! But then I remembered the recital in May and grudgingly chose Two Grenadiers. We went over it a few times and yes, it's still there. This one I can do.

This morning I got an email that listed what each of my teacher's students are playing. There are three others, all high schoolers. Each one of them is playing multiple pieces from Suzuki book 6 and beyond.

Talk about intimidating! Sure, they have been playing since they were tiny, but I'll bet they have vibrato, and confidence and great bowing skills. I'm older than their parents and am playing a piece from "the baby book" sans vibrato or confidence. The bowing skills are debatable.

Then I remembered that this opportunity is a gift. It's a gift of trust, and one of encouragement. As I said earlier, chances to perform are severely limited for middle aged desk jockeys. So what if I'm playing "Two Grenadiers"? I should go out there and play the best darn "Two Grenadiers" ever. After all, if it wasn't beneath David Nadien, who am I to turn my nose up at it?

From Christina C.
Posted on October 15, 2014 at 3:47 PM
Good for you. It sounds as though the odds weren't really in your favor with your previous experience... and yet you survived. You can do this. Enjoy!
Posted on October 15, 2014 at 6:40 PM
love the article, I am 54 years and have rediscovered the violin and am playing suzuki book 3- 4 now as well, so really related to your article, well done, great attitude anne Ireland
Posted on October 15, 2014 at 7:31 PM
Two Grenadiers is not a piece to turn your nose at, it is a great piece where you can show off your intonation with modulation to another scale, rhythm and the whole range of dynamics and colour, playing with energy and strength, gentle tone and calm bow, bowing more energetically, louder and more decisively and from soft playing at the tip to the loudest possible. Your fortissimo finale with Marseillaise will get more applause the book 6 pieces. Good luck.
Posted on October 15, 2014 at 8:27 PM
I know exactly how you feel. I'm 52 years old. Last March, I joined a violin recital and I'm the only adult performer. I'm so nervous and while my turn comes nearer, I feel that I will just pass out any time soon. I'm just so happy and relieved when it's all over and I was able to play my part with out any glitch. I'm not sure if I will ever join a recital again!
Posted on October 15, 2014 at 10:06 PM
It's a meaningful gift to be able to show younger students how to be a lifelong learner.
Posted on October 15, 2014 at 11:52 PM
I'm 51 and started playing only 12 years ago. I live in a little town in Ct and I have been blessed with multiple opportunities to play for others. Have you looked into joining a praise team at a local church. Any one I'm sure would welcome a violinist on the team. Or try googling musicians or fiddle groups in your area, if that is of interest for you. That is how I found a group to play in when I first started violin.

Just a few ideas for you....and to add to your topic...I too was in a recital with 3 other adults and a bunch of little kids. My first and only recital after my first year The little 6 year old with the tiny violin blew our socks off ! was fun...shaking bow and all ! Keep looking for those opportunities ! They're out there if you look ! ;-)

From Alice Trimmer
Posted on October 16, 2014 at 12:26 AM
Good for you, Krista! Take advantage of all the chances to perform you can get, it is an important part of learning--the excitement, the nerves, the post-performance regrets. Enjoy it if you can and each time it will become easier. Well maybe not, but playing for an audience involves an entirely different feel and way of thinking, and the only way to get used to it is to do it! My teacher used to give a joint studio recital with another teacher, and I remember the kind words of the other teacher after the recital -- she gave a special thanks to the adults and said "You know, children think that adults can do anything they want to, but I can tell you that what these people did tonight is not easy."

From Paul Deck
Posted on October 16, 2014 at 3:26 AM
I like the Two Grenadiers. Remember that if a piece seems too easy, then the solution is to play it really well! And I agree with whoever said your fortissimos should be played with mayonnaise. Everything's better with mayo.
Posted on October 16, 2014 at 11:23 AM
Thanks for sharing your story! I had my first public performance experience less than a month ago - also with The Two Grenadiers. I played it terribly and my (always encouraging and understanding) teacher said he'd never seen me so nervous. In the end I'm so glad I did it. Now I know nothing bad comes of a less than stellar performance :)
From jean dubuisson
Posted on October 16, 2014 at 11:55 AM
Absolutely. If you play the piece with zest, clarity, good intonation, good dynamics, and with a nice piano accompaniment, then the audience will actually appreciate your performance much better than the scratchy, out-of-tune, technically-too-difficult-to-play-cleanly pieces played by the youngsters. To the latter pieces the audience will say to one another: "Ouch that was difficult!" To your piece the audience will react "That was a good tune!"
From Ron Knudson
Posted on October 16, 2014 at 12:44 PM
Wow, I needed that! For some reason it is nice to know that my recital/performance issues are not unique. I am 59 and in Suzuki book 3.
Posted on October 17, 2014 at 1:21 AM
WOW! So glad you shared this article! I have my first recital in Dec & am so nervous! I'm 63 and have been taking violin lessons for 3 mos. still have so much to learn & I still make tons of mistakes, but I love it and "I can do this".
From Anne Br├╝ggemann-Klein
Posted on October 18, 2014 at 8:10 AM
Great attitude, Krista, and all the best wishes for the recital.

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