I love performing. One might say I'm a born performer. If I know what I'm doing, I can rock it. Usually a song, but even presentations if the subject is one where I'm sure of what I know.
I do not rock playing the piano. I'm competent but hate playing in public. When I took my grade 5, aged 15, I vowed I would never take another piano exam. And I haven't. I sometimes regret that choice - I played to the level of grade 8 with my teacher, but never took any formal exams to prove it. Maybe one day I'll go back and rectify that. Maybe...
Playing the piano keeps me sane when things are tough. If I'm playing, and especially if I'm playing and singing, I can block out everything. Troubles, worries, the passage of time... I am eternally grateful that my Mum persuaded my 10 year old self it was a good idea to take lessons, and gently nudged me to practice fairly regularly. Although even from the beginning, when I could only string together a few notes and chords, I truly loved sitting and playing. I just wasn't very good at directed playing, ie directed towards learning my scales (I failed the scale section of my grade 4 exam...).
Last summer, my dear friend Felicity took a long summer holiday, and wasn't around to play at church, as is her usual job. So she (rather rashly, I feel) asked me to play for her. I am perfectly capable of doing this, I'm just not comfortable doing it. But, a wage packet came with the playing, and as I would be in church anyway, I gave it a go. I sort of managed, and have become the usual suspect if Felicity needs a week off, which does imply some sort of faith in me. I've become less hung up on playing in public, and better at keeping going even when all fingers have become entangled and no correct notes are issuing from the piano. God love the Anglicans, they'll keep droning on the words to their favourite hymns whatever cock ups I make.
And there's been a quite a few rather spectacular mishaps. Like the time Felicity unexpectedly came into a church service when I was playing, and I freaked out and addded a whole bunch of unneccesary sharps to the introduction of the next hymn. A quiet reflective communion hymn. It was hideous.
And the Sunday (I may have been a leeetle hung over) I played a crashingly bad introduction to the first hymn and some old bat in the front row shook her head and whispered to her neighbour(loudly enough for me to hear!) 'Oh dear...'.
Oh, and the time I played an extra verse of the hymn, and was halfway through the second line before I realised no-one was singing, and then trailed to a slow and halting stop...
Oh yes, there's the time I played a gentle piece of music for the vicar and his altar attendant people thingummys to process out to, then tried to turn the page halfway through and dropped the sodding book on the keyboard. That one was applauded, and to this day I don't know if it was because the congregation thought if they clapped I'd stop, or they thought it was a brilliant end to a very modern interpretation, or if they just didn't notice...
I am getting better though... I played last week and only made a couple of marginal mistakes. And I'm playing for the next couple of weeks while Felicity is on her elective. Of course, I've now jinxed those by saying I'm getting better.
I'll keep you posted on how it goes.