I ache to teach music.
An evening walk makes all the difference. Today was a rough day, filled with the temptation to steep in a pool of tepid negativity. I didn't want to walk, I wanted to lay in bed early with a belly full of food and a bitter heart watching another old episode of the Office for the 16th time.
I went. It was cold.
I spent most of this walk listening to Joe Purdy's album This American. I like to couple it with Canyon Joe and You Can Tell Georgia, to keep the peace. I almost think that they could start a prisoner reform program based on taking walks with iPod's- it makes the biggest difference. Thoreau said it better: it's here if you'd like it.
It's worth noting that for the going to get good, you have to keep going. You have to settle in a bit. Get your barrings, have a little lunch and a nap. It's like everything. So if you're going to try it, walk long and often.
I thought a lot about performance tonight. I rarely experience performance anxiety anymore but I can remember what it felt like in the earlier days. I'd waddle to and fro backstage, gulping down bottles of water and panting, gasping, pleading for more oxygen. In those days the concerns were all outward. What would they think!? What am I going to do when I have to pee during the bridge of the first song?
Instead of taking the time to trim it to the trunk, I'd panic on the branches- running them to the ends and back like a lost neuron zipping about the brain- networking and smooching synapse after synapse (is this what they do?).
Finally I'd stumble to the stage and squeeze the fear out as if the audience was nothing but a big bucket full of mildewy sponges set to absorb my mess. It always felt like I could smell their breath while they sat there staring at me, waiting for me to play the first note.
And then the 'music' came- with all that fear, all that anxiety.
They say that when you are butchering a turkey, you want to make it quick and sneaky like a thief in the night. Otherwise the turkey dumps adrenaline into it's blood and the meat ends up tasting like peppered plastic on a popsicle stick. Same concept here.
And then there's Bob Dylan playing at Royal Albert Hall. Road worn, beaten down, criticized to oblivion. Or so it might seem. Yet he shuffles out to an enormous crowd, entirely alone using a Martin guitar and a rusty harmonica to pull everyone close enough to feel his heart beating in his chest. His projection is entirely musical and truly personal. It's intimate.
I've felt this too. After you feel it once, it's all over. Performance changes from a fun but nervous little show for sleepy parents into something great big and heavy. To go from applying bandaids to conducting surgery! But dealing not with organs or tissue but the unseen. This is what music education is all about.
I can almost sense what it felt like to be Dylan that night. The waffle fry metal of the mic brushing my lips as I spit out every 'TO' on Tambourine Man. Feeling the groove of a familiar, out of the box G chord against my chilled fingers. Listening as each lyric drifts off stage and out into the abyss.
To cast a silence upon a rowdy bunch with a single note and a turn of phrase- that's why.