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Lessons Learned from My First Performance

Krista Moyer

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Published: December 9, 2013 at 7:25 PM [UTC]

One of the reasons so many adult amateurs are nervous about playing in public is that we think that people will think poorly of us if we aren’t perfect. I know I feel that way. But I think that line of thinking might be wrong. Fellow amateurs, I have good news. We aren’t being judged.

In my year and a half of playing, I have only played in public a very few times, and that only in jam sessions with people I already knew, or felt comfortable with. Last Friday, I played to an audience for the very first time. Sure, people might have listened before, but we were practicing, darn it. No one expects practice to be flawless. And yes, the program was only a medley of simple Christmas carols in a church with the parents of the local arts academy in attendance. So what? It was my first performance. That’s a big deal to anyone.

Maybe it helped that I was playing with seven children between the ages of five and eleven so I got to stand in the back. Most of them were better than me. I’m fine with that. They have been playing longer, after all. What I really liked was the feeling of acceptance. It didn’t bother them a jot that I was there, or that I screwed up a few string crossings.

I expected to be nervous, and I was a little. I didn’t want to make any mistakes, but I made a few. What surprised me was the feeling that it was all OK. Nobody expected perfection. If I forgot all about rest position, nobody cared. If I got the bowing wrong, at least the notes were mostly right. I might have felt a bit silly playing with a group of children, but they ARE better than me. It’s always good to play with folks who are better than you, I have found.

So I think I have learned a few lessons:
1. Performances don’t have to be scary.
2. Nobody is judging. Even if they were, what could they do – take away your birthday?
3. The better prepared you are, the easier it is to focus.
4. Four inch stiletto heels for a performance are a BAD plan. Ouch!

The best part is that I didn’t even start shaking until we left the stage. Maybe it was relief. I might have to jump a few hurdles every time I perform, but at least now I know I can.

From Zina Francisca
Posted on December 9, 2013 at 8:31 PM
Congratulations on your first performance! It sounds like it was fun.
From George Mitrou
Posted on December 10, 2013 at 9:19 AM
Now that's a thing to remember. I'm also playing for a year and a half, and I'm giving my 1st performance on Sunday! I realy hope it will go ok. I already have some negative imaginations like, maybe, the notes fall off when I have to turn the page. Like maybe messing up my playing, forgetting how to play the passage, a string is going to snap...

Oh God...

From Krista Moyer
Posted on December 10, 2013 at 1:12 PM

You are going to do fine. I think if you go into it with a positive attitude, it goes better than if you imagine the worst. Best of luck on your first performance!

From Annette Brower
Posted on December 10, 2013 at 3:18 PM
"... take away your birthday." haha Good one! Excellent post.
From Meli Guillen
Posted on December 10, 2013 at 5:22 PM
Haha! I have a similar first performance coming up next Friday! It's at a holiday bazaar but there will be plenty of children performing with me. At rehearsal this past Saturday I was the only adult student there (apparently the other adults don't come to rehearsal because the repertoire is the same) and yes in many ways the kids are better than me but that's okay. Like you said they've been at this longer. :)

My friends that are coming know that I'll be standing behind children but they are all super excited to go. I'm glad yours went well, I hope mine does too!

From Tom Holzman
Posted on December 10, 2013 at 5:40 PM
Excellent! You learned a number of the right lessons, although I cannot speak authoritatively on the stiletto heels issue (I certainly would never wear them when performing - lol). The more you perform, the easier it will become, especially if you are in a group large enough so that better players drown you out. Works for me every time.

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