Monday, January 22, 2007

Flying and music performance.

I play classical guitar, mostly at home but have recently began playing prelude music before church services. I realized the other day that there is a similarity between performing music in public, and flying.

The similarity lies in the dynamic-- you have a start, a middle, and a finish. More to the point, once you start, you have to finish. As the old aviation axiom goes, "takeoffs are optional, landings are mandatory". The difference, of course, is that performing is safer, unless one believes it is possible to die of embarassment.

Before starting to play, I have to go through a little preflight checklist. Do I know this piece well enough? Am I warmed up sufficiently? Oh, yeah, have a tuned the guitar to my satisfaction?

Then, the takeoff run. It's important to make a good start, because this is the first impression on your listeners. You don't want to start to slow or too fast because you'll be more or less stuck with that tempo for the remainder. Nerves can make you go fast,which can be disasterous if there are trickier parts ahead.

In cruise, typically things are easier. There may be a few bumpy spots, but things usually chug along without too much sweat. But you can't lose track of where you are--you have to know your exact location. One of the biggest disasters while playing is losing your place. Then you have to rely on your memory (mine's not the greatest), make something up until you find a place to re-enter the sheet, or worse of all, come to a dead stop. An analogy for the last case would be ditching in a field becuase you've run out of fuel and don't know where you are.

As one approaches the landing/ending, one feels some relief but also has the awareness that a mistake here could spell disaster. In the case of flying, this is obvious. For the musician, the danger is that a major foul-up is going to be the last thing the listeners hear, and will be the impression they take away. (The object when playing at church is not to make a good impression, but to facilitate prayer and meditation; a "bad landing" is going to be very disruptive in that sense).

There's a bit of an adrenaline rush when I begin playing, and a sense of relief when it is over. If I've done my proper flight planning before takeoff, I also have time to enjoy the view (sound) in the middle.

(Note: sorry for the sparse postings lately-- busy-ness and a bad head cold are to blame. Hope to have more posts (with pictures!) soon.)
(Note 2: I talked to Dad the other day and he is having a blast with the new computer!)

No comments: