I reckon you’ll be familiar with this kind of dream: you’re sitting in front of a piano or some kind of musical instrument in front of a big audience, pregnant with anticipation. You take your place at the stool and, fingers poised above the keys, you embark on your well-practised piece. Your first notes ring out louder than you anticipated and jar with one another. You’ve placed your fingers on the wrong keys. You try again but it’s worse. You’re sweating and your hands start to shake as you try to put it right. You apologise to the audience and look down at your fingers, which have helpfully turned into huge, clumsy sausages, slamming down on two keys at once. Try as you might you can’t belt out that tune you have been practicing until you’re blue in the face. And then you wake up. Phew. It wasn’t real.
If only it was just a dream I thought to myself last Friday as I repeatedly offended the ears of my audience with a recital more akin to that of Les Dawson. Try as I might I couldn’t get it right and yet I had practiced so hard. In my head it was unfair, in my ears it was inaudible. I looked across the room, panic stricken; to my music teacher, desperately. After a couple of hearty apologies to the long-suffering audience and a useless rectification of the situation, my teacher came to my rescue. “I’ll play the left hand Stephanie, you do the right”. But my confidence had fled. In my mind I wouldn’t even be capable of playing the right hand, on its own, one solitary hand with all of my attention on it. I limped my way through the piece until the eagerly awaited end wounded and ailing, came into view. A relieved sigh of relief emitted around the room. I had done it. It had been tortuous for me certainly and no doubt everyone in that room because most of us have been there.
My initial thought was obviously relief that it was all over and then amusement that I could really have been as bad as that. I was living the nightmare and it was real, that never happens. It’s always better than you think, right? Just to make you squirm a little more, there was an additional, juicy ingredient into the mix: my children were watching. They witnessed their mother lose face in front of 200 people. They cringed along with the rest of them but for them it was worse. It was their mum: the person in their lives they look up to, who knows everything and can do anything. Only she couldn’t, that was plain to see.
I pondered this scenario for sometime. Should I have exposed them to such short comings? Had I undermined myself in their eyes? Had I bruised and scarred their little lives by my ineptitude? How would I handle the aftermath?
I came to the conclusion that sometimes things go well and sometimes they don’t. You can put so much into something and it still might go wrong but you learn from it. What did I learn? I learned that your attitude makes a whole lot of difference. I addressed the audience with an apologetic smile across my face and confided that I was just a beginner [I’m sitting my Grade 1 exam next week]. I bowed at the end of my shabby performance and in response I received a rousing applause and, yes, I think I heard a cheer too. Next time I will be better – I couldn’t be any worse – and the time after that I’ll be better still. I will always remember that first time but as they say, success is getting up one more time than you fall down. A motto I shall take more notice of in future, bring on the next concert.