Saturday, January 17, 2009

Just Go!

Years ago, I was humming and hawing at a piano improvisation class, feeling awkward and embarrassed by my lack of ability. Why did my improvisations sound so wooden, so predictable, so unsophisticated
? Inside me, I screamed: I know music, I do! I can play these horrendously difficult pieces! I've performed here and sung there! Ask me questions about history and theory and composers! I'll prove to you I am a real musician!

My usually patient professor decided I was talking and explaining too much, so this not-quite 5 foot, mild-mannered woman in her 70s said, softly but with steel in her voice, "Just Go!"

I obeyed.

I wish I can report that that was my turning point, that my improvisation immediately sounded polished and sure because I dared to free my inner improviser. Nope. Till today, piano improvisation, the way I want to do it, remains elusive.

But, that moment has given me countless kicks on my behind to Just Go!

Like now. I've put off wrapping up my thoughts on the subject of fear because I want the the last post to be punchy and profound. But the comment from Douglas Florian in one of my "fear" posts reminded me of Dr. S.

So I'm going to forget about punchy and profound and just say what I need to say. (Great, now I have that John Mayer song stuck in my head!)

All right, here goes.

My biggest fears about writing:

  • don't have talent
  • don't have anything worthwhile to say
I am not exactly the best judge when it comes to my talent and the worthiness of what I have to say. But I have to trust that

  • my share of experiences is no less worth examining than those of other writers,
  • whatever talent I have is enough for what I have to do.
That's it. Not quite the profound thoughts that I hoped to have, but what I really, truly believe. Just like the way I've figured out that I'm no Van Cliburn, but my very own combination of talent and training and desire are perfect for the kind of music-making I've had the privilege to enjoy.

(Florian, by the way, has a new book out soon and if it's anything like his previous ones, I definitely recommend it)

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