Friday, March 18, 2011

Winging It

I've been struggling, a lot, lately, with things which normally come naturally to me.
I've found these newfound struggles crushing.

Back on January 31st my choir began rehearsals for a concert which is this evening.
My conductor decided that the second sopranos could use a little more somethin' somethin', and so she asked me to sing that, as opposed to the part I regularly sing, which is first.
It scared me because I have a lot of trouble hearing inner parts.
Let me rephrase that. I can't hear inner parts unless they are substantially louder than the outer ones.
In the past where I've had to do a few lines of second, I have rehearsed it into the ground by how it feels, completely turning off how it sounds in my head, because I can't listen to the outer parts and sing the inner ones.
I know this sounds like self-defeatist talk, with all the "I can't," but I have tried for many many years to learn this, and have consistently failed at it, but it was never a big deal.  I have never particularly needed this skill.  When it came to ear training I could build the outer parts and then experiment with the inner ones until it had the same sound.  It isn't that I can't tell the difference between an f and a g when sung between a b and a d, it's that I can't find it if I have to sing it, and can't tell you which it is without recreating it on a secondary instrument.

So, like I said, I was terrified when my conductor asked me to sing second, but I'm a "can do" kind of girl, and I said "yes ma'am," moved myself to that section, and set out to listen and try to figure it out.

I missed a couple rehearsals. This is not like me, but roads were impassable one night from the village in which we live and the city in which we rehearse and perform. I missed another night when I passed out early in practice (ouch) because I was coming down with a nasty bug. Another night I was stuck out of town on an impromptu business trip from Hades my spouse made me go on after rescuing my niece who had been abandoned some 3 hours from home, yet near where spouse had appointments, and halfway to the appointments for the next day. Fun times.

So, instead of freaking out, I worked on the music a little more than usual outside of the house.
Let me rephrase that. I've spent hours working on the music. I have tried to sing it with various youtube performances of it. I have played it on the piano into the ground. I have written in counts and Solfege and notated intervals of concern.

The performance is tonight. I just finished another hour and a half of practice time. My toddler now knows the song that gives me the most trouble.

Here's the problem. I don't.

I still don't know it.

I. Do. Not. Know. It.

I have never felt more incompetent in my life.

Sure, I kind of have a working knowledge of most of the pieces, but I do not know them. Every time we rehearse, or I sit down to play another it feels like the first time, and I feel like I'm sight reading. It's like the final exam in a class you didn't know you were taking nightmare.

So, what am I going to do? I'm going to wing it.  I'm going to have a little faith in how neatly I've shown myself where I might be able to hear the notes I need to find ahead of time in order to sing them later.  I am going to mouth it when I don't know where we are.
I am going to smile and fake it.

And then I am going to strongly consider resigning from the chorale, because after the many hours I have cried over not being able to learn these super easy Handel pieces, after the panic attacks at the thought of tonight's performance, I don't want to put myself in a position to end up feeling this incompetent ever ever again.

Nothing is worth it.

Any last minute advice for winging it?

3 reflections:

Nifty Nappy Cloth Diapers said...

I say do it... if you have practiced that much it will come to you. You will get up and there it will be. and the you will NOT quit ... because I know how much you love it. Just say a prayer and go for it. Handel's music is inspiring and I am sure you will add to the Spirit of the music... you are amazing!! :)

Slee said...

Survived the concert without any glaring errors on my part. Felt like I was sight reading most of it all over again.
I suspect the toddler now knows it better than I do, but at least it's over. Right?

Slee said...

And thank you, Vilate, for your support and kind words.