Editor’s Note: This diary entry is the thirty-second in a series of entries describing Teresa Dybvig’s strategies for preparing for an upcoming recital after a long break from performing. Keep posted for further installments. For more about The Well-Balanced Pianist, click on this link: http://www.wellbalancedpianist.com/
Thursday, Oct. 30 – inspiring messages from the world, nice comments from a friend
My recital is less than two weeks away! My ups and downs of the week reflect the nearness of the event. But the world seems to be trying to push me to a better place.
There is the pianopedagogy.org quote of the week from Marvin Blickenstaff: “This is my philosophy; I think a meaningful musical performance nourishes our souls. It is our jobs as teachers and friends and parents to nourish the souls of those around us.” So nice to think of nourishing the souls of those who listen to me play.
And here, from an email from a friend: “The Provost here at our university is a cellist who plays in our small symphony; there is no music degree program here, but several bands/choruses/orchestras are provided to students; the engineering students with all their widgits and so on tell me they need to make music and poetry to bring balance into their lives; I think of the Following the Ninth movement; my 23-year-old grandson goes into the woods to play his viola for a break from his job; and a grandson of a friend whose athletic family knew nothing of classical music surprised themselves by buying the boy a grand after several years of lessons. They are proud of him and have learned to embrace classical music study and performance. I hope you can take further inspiration from these small events and know we ALL need your performances and sharing of your music. I think the world hungers for it.”
Another friend writes, “Thinking of you preparing for the recital. I hope you just enjoy getting ready to play for your friends. I cannot wait to listen to you! Thank you for inviting me.”
All of these thoughts are heartwarming as I move through my day, running the recital and doing my slow looking/listening/planning-ahead practice.
I also play through my opening Debussy set for a lovely friend. Over Skype! I maintain my pledges to accept slips and commit to the music and the piano, and it feels great. And she says all the right things. Bruyères is warm and inviting, just like a call to gather. Général Lavine feels like, “Ok, now we’re all together, let’s have some fun.” She also finds it so funny she laughs at loud at one point. La terrasse des audiences du clair de lune feels like, “Now, let’s explore.” I love that!
I also take some time today to watch a beautiful TED talk by Brené Brown, The Power of Vulnerability. She talks about how her research in shame made her realize that vulnerability is essential to joy, creativity, and love. She observed that the people living the most fully engaged, wholehearted lives, were people who fully embraced vulnerability. They believed that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful. She encourages us to let ourselves be deeply, vulnerably seen.
Performing can feel terrifyingly vulnerable. But what if that vulnerability is the key to living the richest kind of life? And what if that vulnerability is what makes the difference between live music and recorded music? What if that vulnerability is the source of some of the gifts performers give audience members, like the sense they are not alone, or the inspiration to explore their own passions?
I believe that sharing our human vulnerability may be the key to much that is special about live performance. Brené Brown’s TED talk reminds me to embrace that vulnerability in the face of the uncertain results inherent in performance.
It has been an intense week of practicing. Tomorrow I have off since I’m teaching in New York, and I have to say it’s a relief. I’ll pick up again over the weekend.
Teresa Dybvig is founder and director of The Well-Balanced Pianist, an organization which presents programs across North America based on an integrated approach to teaching, learning, and performing. Previously on the faculty of the Taubman and Golandsky Institutes, Dr. Dybvig now teaches privately in Long Island, Manhattan, Chicago, and Denver. She specializes in helping pianists with playing-related injuries.