December 2011

Maybe it's worth it, after all...

December 23, 2011 16:58

Sometimes, I wonder why I'm doing this violin thing. I played as a kid, but dropped lessons when I started on my BSEE. I am not a professional musician, but I play with many that are, in the Austin-area Williamson County Symphony Orchestra.

While practicing, I hear all the musical warts. I massage them to until they go away. Mostly. In the meantime, I have to listen to myself playing below a level I find acceptable.

But -- practice, I do. I work it in as much as I can, with work, family, church and other activities.

So when this year's Christmas series started with a concert at Fort Hood, I felt like I had (mostly) prepared. But, you never know how it will turn out...

The performance for the troops was actually pretty good. And I did fine. Not (insert your favorite top-tier performer) fine, but fine for me. The audience really enjoyed the concert, and the Fort Hood paper published a very complimentary article, with audience comments. A warm glow of having done something for others settled on my shoulders.

This was the weekend before the rest of the series, which came the following Friday and Saturday. We had a rehearsal to polish things before the next weekend.

Friday night, we did the High School gig. It was a big auditorium, with impressive acoustics. The performance was the best yet (I'm counting rehearsals, too). It seemed like not many people were there, but the size of the venue was deceptive. The choir did well on ticket sales, so there was another good deed to feel good about.

The final concert -- Saturday -- was at Saint William's Catholic Church in Round Rock, TX. It's a beautiful venue, with great acoustics. We had a full house. Here is a picture of the attendance:

And here is a closer shot of the orchestra -- I'm the face just left of the conductor's elbow (high res on Flickr):

It turned out, from audience comments afterwards, that parents of the choir kids the night before were so impressed, that they rounded up other people up and brought them to the St. William's concert to share it -- and hear it again.

So here I am, sitting in the second section, just playing away. I'm thinking about what I'm playing, not about how I compare to anyone else, or how to creatively play wrong notes. I'm "in the bubble." I was really enjoying producing music. Toward the end, I got tired and my concentration dropped off. The last part of the finale, I was sort of on autopilot. Still, the music somehow came out, and for some reason, panic did not try to hold my hands. They were otherwise occupied…

And the audience loved it. I think my childhood teacher (who used to press his fist into my arm and say "Jewish tone -- Jewish tone!") would have been at least satisfied.

The moral of this tale? You can find musical fulfillment and be a part of blessing thousands of people every year -- even if you aren't the best, or have gone to Julliard/Curtis/Eastman/whatever.

In a volunteer organization, there's a lot to be said for just being there. And as you are there, you learn and grow, even as you are giving.

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