aqua fortis

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Breaking New Musical Ground

I had a couple of new musical experiences the past two weeks while I was away. The first was at our friends Peter and Chloe's house. One of the many awesome renovations to their place was an entertainment room in the basement, complete with huge projection screen, comfy couches, and...Rock Band on Xbox. That's right, I was a Rock Band virgin, and I am no longer. I tried guitar, drums, and vocals. (Bass is Rob's territory. :)) Not that any of the instruments truly resemble their real-life counterparts, but it was fun. In the past, I've discovered that I'm pretty good at fighting games because I have a talent for button-mashing; now, it turns out I'm pretty decent at Rock Band because I can button-mash in rhythm. Woo! Actually, the drums are cool because it's sort of like a tiny set of electronic drums--and you even sit on a stool and use your foot to work the bass drum pedal. It's quite a workout.

The other new musical experience I had was at the Welsh course: I was drafted to be the piano accompanist on one of the pieces sung by the choir (Myfanwy). They had to be really hard up to do that, since I hadn't practiced in six months or so. How did this come about? Well, the person who is often our accompanist wasn't able to make it this year. Someone came forward to try, but wasn't comfortable playing with the group or in front of a crowd (oddly enough, that exact thing happened to me on one of my first Welsh courses).

So, I ended up playing the easier song, and another of our Board members (who happens to be a professional musician, just not on the piano) played the harder song, thereby dividing the labor. It was a VERY EASY song or I would never have agreed. I slipped in as many extra practices as I could, and decided that I'd be happy if I were able to play it through at the noson lawen (talent night) with three or fewer mistakes and no stopping due to freak-outs.

I managed to succeed, with only a couple of mistakes. However, it was one of the most terrifying experiences (anxiety-wise) I've ever had. TERRIFYING. It turns out it's very difficult to play the piano when your hands are shaking from fear. I'm far less frightened of speaking in front of a crowd than I am of playing music. But then, I spend a lot more time talking than I do playing the piano. I'm in much better practice. Plus, I had to play WITH a group of people who were singing, and it was therefore imperative that I mess up as little as possible.

The difficult part was following the choir director--looking up from the music often enough to make sure I was in time with his direction, without totally screwing up in the process. I was also thrown off by the fact that there was a little bit of sound delay--it took a teensy bit of time for the choir's voices up on the stage to reach me where I was sitting at the piano. So I constantly felt like I was ahead of the singers, even though I was relatively in time with the choir director. That alone almost caused a freak-out.

But I learned a lot. I learned that Sarah should avoid being an accompanist.


Pam Slotsky said...

You, go, girl! I felt your anguish and shaking hands but I'm impressed. I always think of you as so artistic and confident--I bet that's what everyone saw/heard. I hope you rewarded yourself well at a pub after that experience :)

I missed not being there but it sounds like things went well?

Ordovicius said...

You've been tagged