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Karen Allendoerfer

Life, the Universe, and Everything

December 4, 2007 at 12:24 PM

"You're really not going to like it," observed Deep Thought.
"Tell us!"
"Alright," said Deep Thought. "The Answer to the Great Question..."
"Of Life, the Universe and Everything..." said Deep Thought.
"Is..." said Deep Thought, and paused.
"Forty-two," said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.

[From the "The Hitch Hikers Guide to Galaxy", by Douglas Adams]

Today is my birthday. I'm now the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. I started playing music again a couple of years ago, some months after turning 40, and it has been an adventure.

My performance of Bach, Vivaldi, and Vaughan Williams on Sunday went pretty well. The music director told me that I'm "getting better every time," which coming from her is actually quite something. I think my most notable progress was that I was able to not get thrown by minor mistakes in performance. I made a few--intonation and otherwise--but I just moved on. I lost focus once in the middle of Greensleeves, but I got it back. The performance was an average (for me), rather than below-personal-average like I'm used to, rendition of the pieces. I hope that at some point I might actually be able to rise to the occasion and play above my average during a performance, but that's for another time. Another goal to aspire to. I will also note that the overall level of my personal average has improved.

I'm still processing my interactions with the music director during this. As I indicated in my last blog, I was clearly rattled by her comments during our penultimate rehearsal. I'm not thick-skinned, I'm self-conscious, and I'm still in what's probably a lifelong recovery process from performance anxiety. But now, I'm also "the answer."

For our dress rehearsal the morning of the performance, I took more charge of the rehearsal than I had previously. I just calmly told her I needed to rehearse each of the troublesome measures we'd identified in the previous rehearsal, and we did so, slowly and carefully. The entrance that I had initially missed in the Bach turned out fine, and the hardest measure for me to hear in the Vivaldi was reasonably in tune with the piano. People in the audience were very nice. My non-musician husband, bless his heart, said "that first piece (the Vivaldi) sounded pretty good. Was that the viola or the violin?" I reminded him it was the violin--although he's said before that he prefers the sound of the viola--and he said "yes, that was very good for a violin!" The minister sent me a nice email the next day telling me how he loves Greensleeves and it's one of his favorite seasonal pieces.

I debriefed my teacher during my lesson and she had very positive and encouraging things to say about how I'd handled the situation. One new conclusion we came to is that I really had needed more rehearsal time with the music director for the program. We had decided to do two of the pieces (the Vivaldi and the Bach) essentially at the last minute when my partner for the Bach double couldn't play due to illness. My teacher said that string players always need to adjust their intonation the first time they play with others--or at least she always does, and she plays with others professionally, all the time--that's normal. And choral directors and pianists aren't necessarily used to working with string players. Thinking back to that penultimate rehearsal, I think that's a lot of what was going on. She was just nervous and uncomfortable working with a "normal" string player and the issues that one encounters. I feel really good that I was able to talk her through those issues, at least to some extent. And to help my husband appreciate the violin :)

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on December 4, 2007 at 12:45 PM
Happy birthday and many more.
From Anne Horvath
Posted on December 4, 2007 at 2:22 PM
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you.
Happy Birthday, Dear Karen,
Happy Birthday To You!

(And Many More...)

From Karin Lin
Posted on December 4, 2007 at 6:15 PM
Happy Birthday, Karen!
From Tom Holzman
Posted on December 4, 2007 at 9:06 PM
Keep up the good work and enjoy your b'day!
From Albert Justice
Posted on December 4, 2007 at 9:29 PM
Happy Birthday Karen!

You need to hang out with me to deal with that performance anxiety.

al 'plotting busking adventures' justice

From Shailee Kennedy
Posted on December 5, 2007 at 12:39 AM
Happy birthday, Karen! You're just going to keep getting better and better, because you don't back down in the face of fear! Seriously, experience is the best way to build confidence, and you're doing exactly what you need to do. Good stuff!
From Mendy Smith
Posted on December 5, 2007 at 4:06 AM
Happy Answer Day!!!
From Timothy James Dimacali
Posted on December 6, 2007 at 3:30 AM
Wow! Happy birthday, Karen!

All you need now is an improbability drive, and you're all set to conquer the universe ;-)

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