Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I'm not sure I made this clear back in February, but I have the exciting opportunity of re-auditioning for the piano faculty.

That's a positive way of saying that my earlier audition was less than phenomenal, so they asked me to try again.  The good thing about this is that despite some obvious flaws, the faculty decided there was something they liked in my playing and they'd like to give me another shot.  The bad thing about this is that what they asked for was for me to get rid of my slips and hesitations.

And to this, I said, "Thank you for another opportunity."

And to myself, I said, "I'm supposed to do WHAT?"

Because here's the thing.  It's been 15 years since I was performing real repertoire for large-ish audiences.  And somehow in the time since then I've forgotten how to perform without slips or hesitations, if I ever really knew how.  Nerves have become a real problem.

I wasn't sure where to start or how to fix this rather major issue in my playing.

But this is the beautiful part.  People were sent to me with ideas to teach me, to remind me, to encourage me.  I took my first lesson in nearly 15 years and left with my head spinning with music.  I practiced and practiced and practiced.

And every single time I performed, I failed miserably.

I memorized sections.  I memorized left hand alone.  I memorized chordal structure.  I listened to recordings.  I sang the right hand part while playing the left hand part.  I practiced improvising in the style of my pieces.

And every single time I performed, my performances were majorly flawed.

So I started to doubt.  I decided to give up.  And then to start again.  And to give up again.  And to start again.

It's been a barrel of laughs around here, let me tell you.

Somehow, the joy of the process evaporated.  I felt trapped, exhausted, angry, worried, full of fear.  I started to doubt my original (and subsequent) impressions to start this journey.  Instead of thinking of my performances as an opportunity to communicate truth and beauty with an audience, I saw them as yet another chance to show my weaknesses.

And then I learned (again) about surrendering.

I finally accepted that the outcome of this process may not be what I hoped for.  I may not get into the program.  At first, it killed me to even consider this.  I had so many dreams for what I'd learn, relationships I'd form, music I'd play.

But I believe there is a bigger picture.  I believe there is a plan in place.  And when I surrendered to God's plan and expressed a willingness to accept His will for me, the fear (mostly) departed.

So I played for piano group yesterday, feeling that sense of surrender.

And I stunk.

Really.  It was bad.

So I got a little emotional.  It's hard to be bad.

And then instead of letting my disappointment send me to a dark place, I took the advice of my friends to heart and practiced hard.  I worked on making my Bach more dance-like, less heavy, and I played around with the line of the main motive.

And instead of giving up and deciding performing wasn't helping much, I asked another friend if I could play for her last night.  She and her husband are fantastic musicians, and I've avoided having them hear my program because I didn't want them to hear the flaws and think worse of me.  On the drive over, I asked that I'd be able to focus on communicating, on surrendering.

And it happened!  I did it!  It wasn't perfect at all, but it was musical, and strong, and FINALLY I had a performance that didn't humiliate me!

So today I'll work extra hard.  I'll practice the coda of the Chopin forever, and review my starting sections, and work on the fugal variation and the double trills in the Beethoven.  And tomorrow morning, I'll play the audition, and I'll surrender my will to the one who knows best.

(Do I want to get in?  Oh, yes yes yes.  But if there's a different plan, I'll be ready to accept it...AFTER some tears, of course.)

(And if I don't get in, I'm going to make it my quest to figure out how to become more consistent.  I need to know for my sake as well as for the sake of my future students.)

(Speaking of future students, I'm blown away by the doors opening for my teaching.  My plan is to start sending out studio policies next week, interview prospective students through May, and begin teaching in June.  I'm getting very excited to meet the kids I'll be teaching for the next few years.  Can't wait!)


Shannon said...

Kerri, you inspire me. I'll be thinking good thoughts for you tomorrow.

Lara said...

This is incredibly inspiring. What a way to learn to surrender to the Lord's will. I wish you the best of luck on your audition! I'll be thinking of you!

Cath said...

My goodness Kerri! What a journey! I'm so impressed that you are going through with it and that you've listened so carefully to God and your heart along the way. You've been on my little prayer list for a few weeks now - for various reasons. You will stay there. I would love to hear your play some time. And I've been meaning to tell you, we have a mutual friend. Jen Cannon is one of my running friends - she lives up the street and told me she had seen Michelle's blog on your sidebar. Such a small world. Now you really need to come run with us! Prayers for you.

Mindy said...

Kerri, I've always admired your musical abilities and your dedication! I still remember hearing you play at a talent night at Grandma's house and deciding I needed to practice more so I could learn to play like that.
God has blessed you with great musical talent, and you're doing all you can to magnify that ability. He must be very proud of you!
Thank you for continuing to inspire me! I'll be hoping and praying for all to go well for you tomorrow!