Want to know what life is like as an ANAM musician? In Between the Lines is a blog post written by one of ANAM’s first year students.
So I played in my first ANAM lunchtime concert. I hadn’t really expected to be doing it quite so soon in the year, and I had really hoped that it was in a format that I was far more comfortable with: chamber music. But alas, a couple of weeks ago my teacher asked if I could play at an Academy@1 concert. So began the process of re-learning, re-familiarising myself with f# minor, the voices, the hand shapes, the genius that is the intertwining of the voices. I took it into my lesson about a week and a half ago. My teacher deconstructed it and added about fifteen more layers on top of it. Wow. I guess this goes to show that one never is completely done with Bach! The Well-Tempered Clavier is a testament to Bach’s genius; it never fails to amaze me at how he wrote these pieces – all different characters, all expertly and finely crafted.
The morning of the concert, I had some time in the (Main) Hall to try my Bach there. There is something special about being in that Hall first thing in the morning, when the sun was shining through (admittedly, pretty much into my face…) and playing Bach as a way of waking up my senses (if the squishy tram ride and coffee weren’t enough…) and mentally preparing for the day. My teacher also came in to have a listen. He suggested a few things to fine-tune in the next couple of hours before the performances: some voicing, some metronome work. But he was very encouraging and confident in my ability and work. I will be the first to admit that I suffer from nervousness of a varying degree; varying depending on context.
I’ll admit that I haven’t really touched solo repertoire for about two years. Lunchtime concert, first up, Bach, solo. Things that all scare me. My teacher said to me just before I went on, “You love Bach. Enjoy it!” Good thinking. Share Bach with the audience! So out I went, nervous as anything, and ready to show the audience why I love Bach and to prove that I’m here at the Academy to be good! While playing, I actively remember actively thinking about certain things I had written in my score. This is a good thing. Far too many performances fly by and I don’t remember what I thought (except for “Don’t stuff this bit up….” or “Ooh, wrong note…”. So many performances fly by and I don’t remember thinking many positive thoughts, but it always works because I’ve practiced enough for it to become an automatic thing. I actually really quite enjoyed performing my Bach. I enjoyed being able to lead the audience through the complex textures of genius. And of course, it wasn’t perfect. That’s ok. I figure, once you’ve made a mistake, you can’t go back and fix it (unless you’re repeating, then you can give it a second shot!). What was the point of stressing over it? Better make something good happen now and into the future.
I felt so humbled that the audience were appreciative enough for me to take a second, rather awkward and embarrassed, bow….!