"So are you glad your recital's over, Dr. Kruse?" my dear friend Mike asked.
She performed incredibly difficult music and sounded so wonderful. As a teacher myself, I know how stressful teaching can seem at times and trying to prepare my own recital is incredibly overwhelming on top of everything else university has for me. During her recital, I did much self reflection (as I often do at recitals) and I just thought to myself, "Thank God my recital is almost here." Some days I feel like I'm going to be ready but most of the time, I try to prepare for things that might go wrong. As Mike asked this question, I told myself, "I can't wait for my recital to be over." My whole perception changed with Dr. Kruse's response.
"You know, I just try to keep this quote in mind: 'Don't wish your life away!' " she replied.
She went on to describe that if we wish things to be done and finished, we won't be able to enjoy the process and time we have with it.
I have been thinking about this all week and have tried to apply it to everything going on. "I can't wait to graduate, I wish my recital was already finished, I can't wait until Christmas break!" I think these things quite often, usually in busy bitterness. But. I have been thinking much more positively since Dr. Kruse's kind reminder.
In light of my recital, it will most likely be my last chance to perform for my friends around me and my family. I have been practicing with the thought of "don't let anyone down, Shannon." Seventeen years is a very long time to be playing violin and then have the ending result be a flop. I tend to bog myself down with these pressures, but what are they really doing for me? They're motivating yes, but they also cause a pinch of misery. What if something does go terribly wrong? I know what it's like to sit in the audience when the performer still needs a lot of work. Is my main motivation to make my audience not feel awkward?
Let me go back to this question: What if something goes wrong?
This is the question that makes me wish my recital was already over. This is what the determining factor will be when my friends will ask me if I am happy it's over. Of course I will be happy when it's over. The mistakes will be in the past. But I will also appreciate the time I have and make sure the journey is enjoyable for me too, with or without mistakes. When I worked at Interlochen last summer, I saw a bassist perform a concerto with one of the orchestras. She was so delightful to watch because she looked like she was having a lot of fun playing. A friend and mentor of mine leaned over and said, "I think it's so attractive when performers perform like this."
Since then, I have had more of a motivation in preparing for my recital and have had more joy in doing so. I am playing some pretty fun stuff after all! My teacher in London told me that when students know they are doing well, they get a certain smile.
I hope that my excitement grows in the next few weeks and instead of thinking "I'm looking forward to my recital being over," I'll say, "I'm looking forward to my recital." And then I'll end with a smile.