The first time I recall performing is kindergarten. On the last day of school, I played “Teddy Bear March” in the talent show. I don’t recall being nervous.
But as I grew older and performances carried higher stakes like judges ratings, scholarships, or making choirs or soloists look good, I become increasingly nervous. About the only place I’m not nervous is playing in Primary for the kids, or playing congregational hymns at church. (Soloists is a completely different ballgame at church.)
Tonight I took my bundle of nervous energy to school a good two hours before I would actually be on stage, helping accompany the choir. I chatted with the school accompanist and asked her if I would ever not be nervous.
I should preface her answer with her credentials: she’s been the accompanist at our school for at least a decade, has taught thousands of piano lessons, and she has a M.A. in Piano. Performance, I think.
“Oh heavens, no,” she said. “I still get nervous, because I never know what’s going to happen to my hands during a performance.”
I’ve been there many times. Frozen when a chord progression gets off by one note. Clunked through strings of accidentals. Came in a measure early (that infraction caused so much guilt on my part that I brought apology fudge to the choir director the next day for screwing up).
But tonight? Ah, despite the nervous energy, tonight was glorious. A taste of what I played? (Keep in mind my friend Ellen and I were playing off a score intended for a full orchestra. So be mildly impressed, but not incredibly impressed.)