Afraid to Start

One reason we’re afraid to start projects is that we know the tough part is after we start and runs right up until we finish.

I was reminded of that as I was preparing for my rehearsal Monday night with the Rockford Aces. We had now had our newly commissioned piece, May by Michael McGlynn, since mid-September, and had spent a retreat and two rehearsals without touching it.

The reason, I realized, was simple. As I studied and played through the score and internalized the poetry, I visualized (audialized?) an ideal performance. And I realized that as soon as I started rehearsing, what I heard would go from the ideal performance to the challenge of putting it together, while teaching my students about technique, tone, phrasing, intonation, and a dozen other topics.

In that moment, I was honest with myself that the reason I hadn’t put it into rehearsal was because I didn’t want to give up that ideal performance in my head.

Once admitted, it was easy to ignore: because without plunging into it, without beginning, we could never get an actual performance.

We sight read a good bit of it last Monday and will continue to work on it every week. It won’t sound polished for many weeks, and in the meantime I’ll struggle to hold on to the performance we’ll want to give at the premiere.

But the struggle is far better than leaving it in a drawer.

We can only perform the pieces we practice.

We can only finish what we start.