I recently had the chance to perform with the all-state choir. Second time I’ve done that, actually, as I went last year as well.
I’m throwing in a picture of the auditorium in which we performed. I don’t have a good one of the stage, lots of blurry people moving around in the ones I got, which is rather annoying. So you get a picture of the three levels of seating with the lovely purple wash that occurs when a light shines to brightly on an iPhone’s camera.
It made me think about performing. I realized that I tend not to get anxiety about performing, despite the number of people that’re watching. This makes sense, though, when I look closer at it: it’s the wonder of choir. I’m part of a group, I’ve got everyone around me backing me up. Combining our voices means that we can all be imperfect.
Now, I’m not saying that it was okay for me to completely mess up the music. Oh no. This was a very good group, and we’d all practiced the music quite a lot. At this scale, the sort of imperfection that I’m referring to is along the lines of ‘sneaking in a breath where we aren’t supposed to.’
Of course, I still get performance anxiety if I have a solo. Nobody backing me up there. For all-state, I didn’t even try for the solo that was available. I’d have liked to sing it, it was a lovely little bit of lilting Latin (alliteration bonus: 10 points), but there’s a lot of pressure. Because I never get anxious about the people listening. Perhaps it’s snobbish of me to think like this, but they won’t know if I mess up. Or at least I can convince myself that they won’t.
It’s the people standing behind me, around me, that I care about the opinions of. And logically I know that they won’t be upset if I mess up a solo. But I only ever feel pressured to do a solo performance well by my peers, never the audience.
Maybe that’s better? If I felt the pressure of the audience, I’d only be trying for ‘lovely performance.’ But being pressured by my peers, I’m aiming for not only ‘lovely performance’ but also ‘lovely practice’ and ‘improvement over time’ to boot.
Anyhow, I’ll call that the end of this little stream-of-consciousness post about music and performance and whatever else there is. (It’s also giving me an excuse to try the new ‘featured posts’ capability in this theme, which I’ve been itching for a chance to use.)