Thursday, December 17, 2009

On Being Ready -- for Opportunity

You never know when an opportunity is going to show up.  You may think that there is no way you are going to have any opportunities, based upon your circumstances.  But opportunities are mysterious and they have a funny way of showing up at odd times and places.  What happens when an opportunity comes, but you are not ready, and you have to watch that opportunity pass you by?  The answer is not to sit around kicking yourself and wallow in the pain of regret.  The answer is to make - sure - that - you - do - not - let - that - happen - again, by always striving towards increased readiness, just in case another opportunity presents itself -- which it will, eventually.

In recent years, I had an unforeseen opportunity to grow as a pianist.

Ever since I joined a community women's choir six years ago,  part of my approach to learning my choral music has been to privately practice the piano accompaniments to the choral pieces as well.  From doing this, the memories of how much I had enjoyed accompanying our high school chorus came back to me.  I wondered if there might be a chance for me to accompany a piece for our choir.  I even fantasized little scenarios where there was no pianist available and I was able to jump up and fill in at a moment's notice.

I wrote a letter to the choir director and informed her that I had once done choral accompanying.  Her response sounded like she was interested and open to letting me try.

One day, after a period of time had passed, the choir director asked me to lead  some sectional rehearsals. This was very exciting for me, but I was scared out of my wits.  Although I had learned the accompaniment to the piece we were studying, a beautiful song by Faure, I was too scared to play it during the sectional, and the only thing the choir director heard me do was plunk the single notes out for the part to be learned.  It was not long after that the choir director stopped asking me to lead any sectionals.  I believe that my timidity and lack of confidence cost me the opportunity to slide into a spot where I could grow as a musician.

Later on, when I witnessed the skills of the pianists who were chosen to do this task, I was humbled by how confidently they played and their mastery of the piano.

To learn from this, I have decided that I shall improve my skills.  The opportunity is still an opportunity, but not the one I initially thought it was.  Instead of being an opportunity to accompany a choir, it becomes an invitation to take initiative and grow myself as a musician.

As part of my project to learn 24 Italian Arias in 24 Weeks, I have decided to use the same project to improve some of my piano skills.  I plan to learn the accompaniments to the 24 songs as I learn to sing them.  I also plan to use these accompaniments to practice my sight reading.  Today, in Frescamari's Practice Room, I have placed files of sightreading through two of these Italian songs in "Deciding between 'Per la gloria' and 'Vergen, tutt'amor'"  I hope that over these next 24 weeks that my abilities as a pianist will parallel my growing abilities as a singer, therefore "killing two birds with one stone."
To hear me take out Cantique de Jean Racine by Faure (mentioned in above post) and begin to practice it again, check out the Frescamari Practice Room post "Using a Sick Day to Practice Piano"

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