I'm really enjoying having Michael Stern as a conductor this week. Besides being, obviously, a good conductor, he's inspiring, funny and incredibly articulate. Anytime he starts talking, I find myself really wanting to listen, which sadly is not always the case with conductors. One of my favorite comments to the violins today was this one:
"I'm more interested in the vibrato between the notes than in having lots of vibrato on those notes. Let's not throb ourselves into the Guinness Book of World Records."
I played the Mendelssohn Scherzo excerpt in a masterclass today for Stephen Rose, and I was completely horrendous. Looking on the bright side, I guess it's good to have those experiences that remind you that how you play in the practice room doesn't matter all that much; it's what you can do under pressure that wins or loses an audition. And I, like so many other violinists, am capable of playing my worst when my nerves get the better of me. Sometimes I notice other violinists with the mentality of, "Oh, so-and-so played his Don Juan excerpt badly in masterclass; I can play it better than that, therefore I must be better." I think a mature person is the one who can accept the reality that comparing your own personal best playing in the practice room (in ideal conditions, with no nerves or pressure coming into play) with someone else's nerve-wracked performance (with sweaty palms, a racing heart, and shaking hands) isn't realistic. We're all (we mere mortals, anyway) capable of royally sucking. Which is what I did today. Yay, me.
Well, tomorrow is a new day.
And tonight as Brooke and I were walking across campus, we passed a saxophone player (disclaimer: definitely not affiliated with NOI!) standing in the dark on the grass playing "My Heart Will Go On" to the vast expanse of the University of Maryland, to the great outdoors, and beyond.
So at least my performance wasn't the most ridiculous thing that happened today, after all.