Today was the 3rd Annual Recording of the Placement/Audition Pieces for Summer Camp. Every year this causes me way more stress than it's worth.
This year I picked a neato duet by Michael Kimber, which had been suggested to me by a former teacher. I asked Critical Man to record it with me. He thought it was over my head (and told me so after one reading), but agreed to try it. I worked on it for a few weeks and went to his house to record it today.
His opinion of my playing is fairly poor, and mostly he doesn't bother to hide it. But he does slip into teacher mode, finding some thing in the thicket of bad notes and poor sound that he can spend time on and fix, and sometimes he's really effective. During those times, I almost think that he thinks I can be helped, and that he's not rolling his eyes and making gagging noises behind the teacher mask.
But I know it's a mask, and sooner or later it always comes off. Today, before we even started on the recording he made some remark I can't remember exactly, some refrain about kids just "getting it" while I, oafish adult, trip myself up trying to apply logic to things. Not a particularly promising start to the session. We recorded one take of the duet; it was ok for the first 2/3 until I flubbed a few notes and my playing grew tentative. Still, it was really about as good as my amateurishness would allow. As I packed up I said I wished I could change some things about my sound. What do you wish you could change, and why, asked Concerned Teacher Mask. I said I wished I had better control of my tone, and I wished I had a better vibrato - more speed, more continuity, more control so I could use it the way I want. And I wished I could do more with right and left hands simultaneously. Oh, I can't teach that, he said, mask slipping away. That's something I just "got", the ability to make whatever sound I imagined. There's no lesson for that. And coordinating right and left, well, that comes from neural networks that you just don't have. UNSPOKEN STAGE WHISPER: and you never will, because you're an old lady! Ever conciliatory, I left the check on the music stand, also a brand-new pencil for good measure, saw myself out. Went home and listened to the recording, emailed asking for please one more take next week but willing to accept No for an answer if he feels it's hopeless or a waste of his time.
Old lady in a Dead Kennedys Nazi Punks Fuck Off t-shirt here, adolescent rant forthcoming: SOMETIMES I HATE HIM SO MUCH, SRLSY!!!!! I work so hard, and all he ever does is look down his nose at me and say "amateur" with the sneer that seems built into the French pronunciation of the word.
The fact is that I work this hard because that's just the way I am.
I work this hard because in some way, I want to.
I am learning, although lately I feel that everything I learn comes with a price tag, and that price is a deeper realization of how much I still don't know.
This happens every spring and I should feel damn lucky to get through it.