I had a mild nightmare a few days ago about my fiddle. I dreamt that I was practicing a piece with other people. I was really nervous because this was my first time playing in a group. We practiced repeatedly & eventually we decided to give the piece a try. The leader of the group, a man playing something like a cello, counted us off. Everyone starts together but after a few notes, my violin is off-key. I start sawing at it frantically as the instrument deflates like a balloon in my hands. Everyone stops & stares. The leader takes the fiddle out of my hands & asks, “What happened?” I wake up before I can answer him.
I am not usually a performer. I’m still trying to keep from breaking into a sweat even just showing my teacher what I’ve learned. But Steve is encouraging. After my lesson last week, he said I should get friends together for caroling & start practicing. “There’s nothing like a gig to give you experience as a musician.”
He then outlined the difference between a practitioner & a musician. “A practitioner plays the same piece over & over again until it’s note perfect. If they make a mistake, they start over from the beginning. A musician tries to capture the feel of the music & doesn’t worry if they hit a few bad notes. They just keep going.”
So, I said I would think about putting a caroling group together, but I didn’t really believe the words as they came out of my mouth. My shyness & reluctance to draw attention manifests itself in weird ways. There’s a difference between performing & doing something because you think it’ll be a good story. I’ll sing lead in Rock Band or dance with the belly dancers in a Middle Eastern restaurant because I can goof on myself later.
But doing something that I claim to have skill with? Much more nerve-wracking because I have a perfectionist streak. I totally fixate on my errors, causing more errors, which makes me more nervous & leads to more errors.
Then, last night, my husband & I watched the (so-so) movie The Visitor. The film ends with a character playing a drum in a subway. Not just to busk, but because he wants to play in public & he can. & I have to say, the idea appealed to me a little.
I’ve always avoided street performers with the same sort of anxiety I reserve for the homeless. “Oh God, if they see me looking, they’ll want something from me.” But with Steve’s suggestion, the idea of playing in public seems less frightening & a little more interesting. I may only be a month or so into my practice, but being able to play just a little opens some interesting doors, busking being one of them.
Things aren’t bad enough yet at home that I have to try & supplement our income. (If I really needed the money, I could probably make more reading tarot.) Call it middle class slumming, a gypsy of the suburban order. Makes me curious what kind of stories I could come away with.