Friday, May 1, 2015

Masks of Invincibility

In my normal day-to-day life, I am not confronted with the dilemma of “putting on a brave face” for those around me. My loved ones appreciate the wide variety of experiences and challenges which living with MS and RA may present. But for the past couple of weeks, I have been confronted with the public-face vs private-face contradiction which so many people living with chronic disease encounter.

As a private music teacher, April is often the time I push a little harder to help fine-tune practice and performance techniques of students while encouraging confidence as they prepare for contest performances and our annual recital. It’s a stressful, but exciting time, for both teacher and student. However, trust me when I say that getting ready for the big recital is probably much more stressful on the teacher than the students.

April is also the month during which our state region hosts the annual Solo and Ensemble Festivals at which I accompany my own private students, as well as several other young performers who are required to have an accompanist. This has become a significant source of income which balances the fact that most of my private students do not continue lessons during the summer. Too often it’s feast-or-famine for a freelance musician.

This year I have been working with 21 students in preparation for 25 performances, totaling more than 35 distinct movements of music, in addition to the digital recording of two pieces for one student’s “introductory” video for her intended private teacher at college next year.

Some of the selections of music are not too challenging, but others have been so difficult that I’ve had to put in several additional hours of practice time outside of rehearsal time with each soloist. One piece in particular seems nearly impossible to perform as composed, and indeed is within our short timeframe, even with an estimated four hours of additional personal practice time put in so far for that piece alone.

But yet, it is my job to do my best, and to do so with a cheerful and encouraging demeanor. I can’t simply say, “that crazy tempo you want to play, which is faster than any of the professional recordings I’ve studied in preparation for our time together, simply ain’t gonna happen.”

Read this post in its entirety:
You're Doing Great! And Other Masks We Wear

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