I’m currently visiting my grandfather who lives in a village for retired ministers and missionaries. There are always activities for people to go to to keep them active and entertained, one of them being the weekly hillbilly band. There is a dedicated band that plays and then anyone can get up and sing or play an instrument.
Last week while I was writing, I heard a song on YouTube that I thought was really cool and I decided to learn it by listening to it and playing along. The song was Abe’s Retreat played by Tim Rowell. On a whim, I asked if I could get up and play it on Hillbilly night. They were very excited to have “a young person” participating. I practiced and practiced playing along with the video, and I made sure they knew I wanted to play with the backing track because I thought it sounded better, but when it was my turn to go up, the settings on the system had been changed.
I started playing and at first, I was doing ok, but then I think they turned up my mic in the monitor closest to me and then I couldn’t hear my backing track at all. This caused me to panic and I forgot where I was in the song. Then I did the most mortifying thing. I stopped playing for a measure or two so I could hear the track and get my bearings.
Of all the times I’ve played that song when I did it on stage was the worst I’ve ever played it. Even though I’ve had just about everybody who was there pull me aside to tell me how good of a job I did, I’m still extremely frustrated with myself for having to stop the way I did. I thought I finally had the song down pat where I could stay perfectly in time with the backing track without really having to think about it, but I go on stage and panicked. I thought I’d gotten over my stage fright for the most part, but apparently not. That is the main problem with me playing something from memory when I’m performing. I get distracted and forget where I am in the song.
I’m putting the video of it here, but be nice and keep in mind that I was extra nervous because everyone expects me to be some extremely gifted violinist, I couldn’t hear my backing track, and I only had a couple days to learn this song with no sheet music.
Even though I didn’t perform as well as I wanted, I had fun playing along with the band and it was a good experience for me. I tend to shy away from anything that is even remotely risky, so just volunteering to perform was a pretty big step for me.
On top of hillbilly night, I’ve been playing with the orchestra at church. There is only one other violinist so it isn’t a huge thing, but again, it is still a good experience for me. Even if I never pursue a career in violin, it is good for me to have to push myself and step outside my comfort zone. It’s a huge confidence builder when I do better than I expected and my worst-case scenarios don’t come to pass. On hillbilly night my fear was that I would trip over my fingers or get distracted and start playing the wrong song in the middle which I have done before. Thankfully when I did that, the songs blended really well and it was actually really pretty even though it wasn’t intentional.