I forgot to mention this.
Last Sunday I gave one of the worst performances of my life. Eugenie asked me to do “special praise”. By the way, we should stop calling it that. It’s the same thing every single week during offering. In what sense is it special? No clue.
Anyway, I decide to play Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring on guitar, just to change things up a little. I figured I could; I’ve played this song hundreds of times. I even do a trick where I play this song behind my head. I know this song really well.
And, to make a long story short, I choked. There’s one section that brings it back around, and I just couldn’t remember it. And it was hellish. Everytime I had to get to that section, I just hoped that somehow my fingers would find their way through it, but they just didn’t. It was the worst I’ve ever played anything publically in my life.
The second worst I remember was at this random recital we had at church of all places. It was for some organization. I knew this Chopin I think it was a Polonaise, a pretty famous one very well. But I was also working on this Rachmaninoff Prelude (I think it’s a prelude) that, while I didn’t know it as well, it just sounded way more impressive. So I decided to go for it.
Mistake. I don’t know if other people feel this way, but sometimes I can practice a song forever, have it memorized, but still not really “know” it. Uh, I think this is just a problem for slackers like me who never practiced enough but still had to play in stupid recitals.
Anyway, before a recital, what I do is rehearse in my head. And, if I really “know” the song, when I’m rehearsing, I know exactly where my fingers should go at every point in the song. But sometimes I don’t “know” it, and I find out that I get through the song because of muscle memory. Just, when you do it enough your fingers kind of remember where to go. But I don’t really “know” the song.
And do or die time, when I find out whether it’s muscle memory or really knowing it, is when I’m rehearsing before the recital. I guess I could do the same thing earlier, but yeah, I never practiced as much as a should have. I’d say in high school, a lot of the time the only practice I got was at the lesson. It was that bad.
At any rate, if I didn’t know the song, it all depended on muscle memory, and I just hoped I’d get through it when I actually did it. On this particular occasion, with the Rachmaninoff, I didn’t. I started derailing somewhere through and kept trying to stumble through but I couldn’t regain my bearings so I just suddenly stopped altogether and started all over.
Which was stressful, because there was still no guarantee I wouldn’t do the exact same thing and then I had no idea what I would do. Just stop midsong, get up, bow, and take a seat, I figured. I was stressed out like mad I remember. Fortunately, I stumbled through the song and finished, although it wasn’t great at all. But yeah, that was a bad performance moment, deciding to play a song publicly that I just was not ready for.
And this past Sunday was worse than that.