Sunday, January 1, 2012

That dadgum tuning fork

Here's an example of how I seem to have an inbuilt mechanism for screwing things up, despite the best of intentions.

I'm directing the choir again this morning, and I only realized at 5:00 am that I left my suit jacket at my sisters house last weekend when I was visiting for Christmas, and the tuning fork is in my jacket pocket.  I have semi-perfect pitch though... I can usually start off a certain Haydn sonata in D major in my mind in the right key, and based on the beginning note - which is D - I can find any note from there.  That is, when I'm relaxed and not a nervous wreck.  The problem is, I'm usually a nervous wreck when I'm directing the choir, which pretty much fubars my mental faculties.  Easy things become hard.  Tones I thought I had memorized fly out the window and are splashed to the four winds.  I second guess everything, even when I know I'm right.  It's an interesting phenomenon... when your hands are shaking and your heart is pumping and your mind is a chaotic mess, how 'right' can suddenly become 'devastatingly WRONG'.

I actually gain a kind of superpower when I'm a nervous wreck, which is the ability to transfer that nervous wreck energy onto people within my sphere of influence; namely the other choir members.  I've also noticed that on the semi-rare occasions when I'm in the middle of just royally making a complete and total mess out of something (as opposed to just fumbling through it), and when Fr. Justin tries to give me a hand (by starting me out on the right tone, for example), some of that nervous wreck energy even transfers over to him, because sometimes even HE gets it wrong.  It's not bad enough that I have to be a frazzled ball of anxiety - I also have to be contagious.

Afterward, Fr. Justin will usually make his way toward me through the smoldering wreckage of whatever service it was that I had just nuked - usually a divine liturgy or an all night vigil - and thank me; sometimes offering a few words of encouragement.  This ain't easy, this thing I'm trying to do - this business of choir directing in an Orthodox church.  There's a lot to learn in just setting up the services, such as knowing which octoechos to use during vigil based on which saint is being venerated.  And then there are all of the different tones that have to be memorized and recalled instantly, according to their particular function.  And I hear that it's also pretty normal to be a nervous wreck when standing in front of a bunch of people and having all of the attention directed at yourself.

It helps to realize all of this sometimes, and to know that I'm not really a retarded monkey.  I understand that part of my problem is the habit I have of beating the shit out of myself when I don't necessarily deserve it - like for not having the tuning fork this morning because I left my jacket at my sisters - which makes things harder than they ought to be. 

But I don't even really need that tuning fork.

No comments:

Post a Comment