Throughout my eight years of violin playing from the fifth through 12th grades, I sat in first chair for only one concert. Usually, my friend Erin was sitting untouchable in first chair. She had this natural, raw talent whereas I worked for every pitch perfect note I hit.
When Erin and I moved up to the high school we played in the ninth grade strings group together. We weren't good enough to be in the orchestra. Well I wasn't. Half way through our first year in high school, Erin got moved up to the orchestra while I remained back with strings. Erin's move also put me front and center in first chair. And for that one semester I sat in the top seat, the strings had one concert. And that one concert was the single worst concert performance I had during my eight-year playing career.
I was a train wreck. I remember being nervous and missing one note, and then missing the a few more, and then my fingers failed me on an entire phrase. And before I knew it the concert was over, and I'd played less than half the music, sitting frozen for the most part in the top seat. It was so bad that my mom upon seeing me right after the concert asked, "What happened?" What happened was that I was a ninth grader who couldn't cope with the slightest bit of pressure.
Leading up to the wedding on Saturday I replayed this one event several times over in my mind. My deepest fear was that the debilitating nerves I experienced that one day over a decade ago would show up unexpectedly on my friend's wedding day.
I learned on Saturday that thankfully I'm not that same timid ninth grader I once was. On the Thursday night wedding rehearsal, my run through of the songs went really well. Plus the venue was perfect. Instead of being on the floor jammed next to the pews, I stood on a loft overlooking the ceremony while my music floated down to everyone below. I had a minor flub during the ceremony and one of my songs could have been about 30 seconds longer, but other than that, it went really, really well. And I knew it would. As we went through the rehearsal Thursday this calming feeling washed over me. I realized I wanted to be a part of this beautiful day. But not just to be a part of it, I wanted to add to it. The only way I could was to play as best as I possibly could. So I let the beauty of the moment, the happiness of the couple and my months of preparation be the relaxant to my nerves. No pressure. Just happiness. And music.
Here's to no longer being an awkward ninth-grader.