BECOMING BETTER

Jean Croker Petke


The Recital

The Recital

My fifth annual piano recital has been accomplished. A group of about twenty came to my house on Thursday, another group on Friday, and a third group on Saturday — for Classics and Cookies. The music I played was what I call “lesson music” — the pieces I work on throughout the year with Dr. B. Czerny, Moszkowski, Debussy, Chopin, and Brahms were the composers of the day.

In preparation for the recital, I research the composers and the particular pieces I’ll be playing. Then before I play each piece, I share with the audience what I think will be of interest to them. Limited time doesn’t allow for a full biography of each composer, so I pick and choose what I’ll share.

In researching Chopin and his preludes I learned that he disliked giving public performances. In fact, he gave less than thirty such performances in his life. He preferred playing in intimate settings, such as salons or his apartment. A salon in Chopin’s day was a home gathering of intellectual, artistic, and literary circles. The salon broke down social barriers and was an important place for the exchange of ideas.

I was immediately affirmed in my own recitals. Being like Chopin is a good thing.

As I shared this fact about Chopin with my audiences on Thursday and Friday, I said, “We are like a salon, here in my living room. We are the literati, the artists, the musicians, and the creatives. How cool is that?” On Saturday, the audience caught the connection before I explained. Awesome moments.

I like having this performance commonality with Chopin. Our talents are worlds apart, but our preference in playing for small groups is the same.
I’ve been pressured to play on stage in a more formal setting, but I’ve resisted. I love sharing my music with others, but being on a stage, no matter how small, is not for me. I’d rather play several performances in my home than one performance on a stage.

Perhaps we’ve lost something in our modern society. Where do we gather these days to share our interests, our passions, and our creative efforts? Where do we gather to seek inspiration from other passionate and creative spirits? I wish each person in the room had told what they brought to our salon: what they care most about, what wisdom they hold, what stirs their passion, and the pull of their creative dreams. We would have been astonished at this gathering of souls. They came for the classical music and cookies, but there was so much more there, in my living room.

Here’s the beauty of these salon times. Performance perfection is not the goal. Sharing one’s work is our reason to be together. I didn’t play perfectly. I never do. While I dream of perfection, I’ve been unable to pull it off. But mistakes don’t matter so much in this relaxed environment. No one is staring at me as I fumble; they’re sitting in the next room. I can quickly regroup, repeat a passage, or even start over. I notice the mistakes more than they do.

I don’t beat myself up. I don’t apologize.

I played my best.

 

Until next Tuesday . . .

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