Monday, May 4, 2009

Nerves, Adolescent Style

My Daughter played her clarinet festival very well today. Indeed, that must be said up front; I was her proud accompanist. The adjudicators were college age females, one a bassoon and one a flute player, two of a quintet that had showcased some of their music to the students during the last period of the school day. They had quite glowing comments verbally about her tone and her performance poise. Of course, my favorite comment was that we made a good team. I have no idea if they knew we were related. It doesn't matter. The written critiques will be given at her lesson. I can't wait to read them. As a fellow critical listener myself, I have a mental picture of how a critique should read.

The real story of the afternoon was the terrifying nervous tension in the entire lower level of the building. Full of freshman angst, the fact that they were being put on the spot to perform was not enough for them. They skittered about, mice-like, asking each other if they were nervous. How did you do, they would ask as soon as the door opened. "O M G! I was so scared! I thought I was gonna die! I totally like screwed up the whole middle section. My duet partner came in three measures early and we like completely crashed." Dread wafted through the tight corridor: an invisible, palpable, oppressive mood.

They had been asked to dress up. This alone bothered many of these young adults. "I feel like I'm going to my own funeral. I can't believe she chose that outfit. I hate this shirt and tie." Many had chosen to ignore this important part of the festival, wearing sweats and flip-flops. I don't know whether this critique has a 'stage presence' portion; many other critiques do.

I found it hilarious and so familiar. If you are not playing this game, the Wind Each Other Up Game, one of two things will happen to you as a student. Other overly anxious students will come over and try to wind you up. "Aren't you like scared out of your mind? Oh man, I think I'm gonna wet my pants!" "Ooh, you're next and that duet ahead of you is blowing it big time. How can you just stand there in front of the door; don't you want to wait outside like us or walk around listening at all the other doors?"

The other scenario is that people will ostracize you. They pull away and whisper. They might consider you arrogant. This actually works in your favor to keep your focus on what you're there for, if you can stand the peer pressure. If you have real friends, they understand. If you care about what others think, you will usually cave.

The healthy part of all of this insanity in the hallway is the music. Some of it squeaks, some of it squacks, and some of it shows incredible potential. And they're all learning much more than music.

She came out high as a kite, and we went to Dairy Queen. Artic Rushes all around!

1 comment:

  1. A recital is no place to be grounded. Wind it up, kids, make a big energy swirl. I think it's one way performers draw up energy so they can put the music out there. Add performance energy to teenage hormonal levels and the outcome is scary!

    Glad your daughter did well. Bravo!


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