One day back in May, as I sat down to dive into the monotony of practising, it occurred to me that anything for which one has a passion requires mostly a lot of little tasks that are boring and unattractive in themselves, but combine to create the final piece that everyone else can enjoy wearing, reading, watching, looking at, or listening to.
Playing the same measures 200 times to perfect them is tedious and sometimes even irritating, but the flip side is that without the hard work on small things there would be nothing left. We perfect the little things because without them we can’t have quality in the full piece, and the pieces we learn to some extent define Who We Are. Without actively expressing music, a musician basically ceases to exist, as I have found to be true in my experience.
I need to remind myself of this often, especially as I’ve been working on the piece that I have found that defines me in a way no other piece has ever done: Mozart’s K339, Laudate Dominum. It’s as if Mozart put the pulse of my soul to music, and when I connected with this piece, I seemed to get the essence of myself back again. But it’s not an easy piece, at all! It has been a gorgeous and difficult vortex and I have been working on it for a number of months.
When I get it wrong, I still enjoy playing, although I’m dissatisfied with the result. When I get it right, I am positively heady and exhilarated. There is nothing quite like the feeling of nailing a difficult bit of music and knowing you’ve done a good job. Having a personal connection with a piece of music makes it even better.
I have so much catching up to do after fifteen years of musical inactivity, but I can’t undo time wasted. I can only go forward from here.
Jim and I playing this in concert in Stayton, October 18, 2014: