Since my wrist injury last year, I’ve felt in a rut about performing on stage. This rut wasn’t built overnight either. The feelings of frustration, dissatisfaction and stress about performing as a pianist were festering years before this.
When I started my musical studies, I had some silly ideas about what a successful career as a pianist should look like and I had got it in my head that the only true path to success had to be as a soloist. However, I realized the past few years I didn’t had the patience or talent or even true ambition to be a concert pianist and I realized I was okay with that. So one day, I decided to stop pursuing someone else’s dream and start creating my own musical path. My fall was a wake up call for me. It made me realize that I was okay if my whole identity did not revolve around one instrument and that on the contrary, I needed diversity in my occupations to truly be fulfilled. Focusing on something other than my piano for a year allowed me to pursue many different paths and learn a lot about myself and what I want and don’t want in my career.
However, during this year of exploration, I also unintentionally put a stop to performing. I didn’t perform once outside of public exams and preparation performances for these exams. Of course, I could argue that with my wrist needing time to heal, I wasn’t able to prepare programmes but even after I fully recovered (around march this year), I felt uninspired and unmotivated to practice deliberately, prepare concert programmes and search for projects anymore. I resigned myself to the idea that a career a performer was not in the cards for me and unconsciously stopped trying to create one for myself.
But here’s the thing, for the first time, I realize I miss it. I miss the stage, the excitement and the nervousness. I miss the bare vulnerability of being in front of a public and not knowing what will happen. After reading this wonderful post from Celeste Lovick posted on her sister’s blog, I got reminded of why I missed it so much : I still have a lot of love to share on stage.
In the beginning of my studies, the intention behind every performance was to be a concertist. It was a lot of pressure, a lot of disappointments and not much joy at all… The rare few times I truly enjoyed performing was when I let go of all of the expectations and pressure truly played out of love. Love for the music I was playing, love for people I was performing with and for, love for the experience of self discovery… I always loved performing in random places such as train stations because I wouldn’t have a care in the world about my music needing to be perfect or people needing to like my music or about making a name for myself. However, outside of those exceptional rare moments, I had lost most of my sense of wonder or enjoyment on stage because of this underlying intention.
I realize now that sharing love on stage is a a far stronger and more inspiring intention than seeking “success”. Love drives my decisions, relationships and my Art. Why not my performances too?