Stretching.

I don't perform really at all, anymore. I can play a mean rhythm keyboard, accompany the easiest of musical theater tunes, sing along with any number of songs in my car/in the shower/at the piano/along with my iPod walking through the streets of my town. I love doing all of those things, but they're low-stress outings.

Solo piano? That's tough for me. I've played for forever - had my first lesson when I was 3. But it's always been a means of self-expression. And, when I play for people, the level of chatter in my head is DEAFENING. Really, it's the loudest thing I've maybe ever experienced that isn't actually, well, loud.

And it's defeating. Paralyzing. I can't get past the first sounds - too loud, too messy, too wrong.

Tonight? I played (that might be too generous a word, but bear with me.) a Chopin waltz. In front of people. I've played it for months, off and on, but only for me. (well, and the hubby - who is always supportive, and the animals - who are indifferent at best to my pounding.) I struggle so with playing in public; as someone who trained as a musician, but is no longer really a practicing musician, the mountain looms much larger than it ever did.

But one time, months ago, when I had made it through with some finesse, I made myself a promise that I'd play it in front of people.

So this morning (#committmentissues), I volunteered to play it for a little staff get-together. Low stress, an easy audience and a ridiculously beautiful piano. Piece of cake, right?

Aherm.

I made a LOT of mistakes.
Like, a million. Like I tried to improv or modulate into another key mistakes. Wild, ridiculous things.

BUT.

I played it. Granted, I had played it for a pal prior to the "performance" and nailed it. Felt really good that someone outside of my family heard me not suck.

But I played it. In front of talented folks who were months/years from their peak (instead of decades. Ouff.) And I made it through, without quitting. The piano didn't melt, the listeners didn't scream in pain. (Well, out loud, at least. Or maybe I was preoccupied...)

I can't actually say that it even really felt good. Sure, the checking off the 'goal accomplished' box feels good, but as always I was so, so happy when I hit that last note and was done.

I am, however, so happy and grateful to have the opportunity to stretch! How often do we get the chance to try things again and see if they fit, to work towards something that's not squarely in our professional wheelhouse, to crash and burn in a gentle way? To work towards something, to meet a goal, to play - albeit marginally - alongside performers who have chops felt really good.

Tomorrow? I think I'll pick a new tune to learn. For next year.



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