Sunday, July 15, 2007

am I an elitist musician?

alright, don't hate me. I'm working my way through this.

here's the scenario:

11yr-old girl sings for church this morning/
song is CCM, country-style, wide jumps, out of her range/
mostly incredibly out of tune, with little sense of step/half-step motion/
mother is obviously the pusher in the situation/
girl forgets the words, starts crying and sits back down/
one by one the congregation stands up, clapping; an ovation/
justin remains seated at the piano.

alright, hear me out.

There are so many subtleties that I'm sensitive to:

why can't an 11yr-old sing amazing grace or I love you Lord, something that is relatively easy to sing, with fewer words to remember?

why would an 11yr-old have to sing the song without words (in church) - especially if she's nervous?

why would a mother push her daughter into something that she's obviously not doing really well, even when unstressed?

would she be able to discern that the standing ovation was more for her effort and not her musical performance?

what about the school of hard knocks? is an 11yr-old exempt? (my experience with festivals, competitions, even playing in church can be brought up at this point - I've screwed up enough times to know that I've been given grace - but I think I've always been taught to analyze my mistakes and learn how to grow from them)

it was interesting - after church, I was listening to Prairie Home Companion driving up to Riverside, and the guest was Renee Fleming, a famous soprano (just google for her dossier). And she related the story of her first of three Metropolitan Opera auditions - basically she said it was horrible - she said how her parents had pained looks on their faces, how her accompanist wanted to stand up and say that she'd try again the next year, just some way of putting her out of her misery.

I like this story. Some days you just screw up (like this past saturday morning for myself), but the potential of having a great performance is there (now this point can be discussed for hours). I can just see this 11yr-old, maybe five/ten years from now, still trying to sing, and hopelessly sub-par, still being encouraged by a parent that has big dreams.


Dear 11yr-old girl,

I'm sorry for applying all of my 27 years of musical development, cynicism and suspect on this one performance. May you learn scales and truly develop a voice to rival Shania Twain.


On a side note - North American audiences love their standing ovations.


James Jeffery said...

is there hidden sarcasm in the reference to Shania twain? Methinks there is.

wordhabit said...

you're not an're one of those people who try to do the right thing for the long run.

"11yr-old girl" will appreciate you one day

jefferyjustin said...

Come on now, who doesn't like Shania Twain?
no seriously, she's got staying power.
and her voice totally works for her style.

and she's gonna getcha good.

Sistah Girl said...

I don't like Shania Twain. I had to work with her. She ain't a peach. thats for sure. But she's rich so I guess thats something.