In the Army, we used the expression, “fake the funk,” a phrase I always thought sounded gross for some reason. But it basically means, if you don’t know what the heck you’re doing, act like you do and people generally won’t notice the difference. This is something I fear I will be doing in my new position as a ballet class accompanist for a few weeks until I get the hang of things.
I observed a class today and was exhausted by the end of the 1 ½ hour session just watching the pianist. The mental focus of reading the instructors mind, and silently counting with the accuracy of a metronome totally drained me. And on my first day, I’ll be playing for about 8 hours straight. I’m praying there’s a lot of children’s classes scheduled for Saturday. (Can you ballet to the Itsy Bitsy Spider?)
When I got home, I tore apart my horribly overstuffed and disorganized music shelf for anything that sounded a little more ballet-ish. I would imagine there might be some funny looks when the instructor says, “and plie 5, 6, 7, 8,” and I start hammering out St Louis Blues. But today I found the holy grail of all my ballet music needs…a fake book of the great composers! Three hundred pages of everything from Beethoven’s “Fur Elise,” to Ballets and Operas by Mozart, dumbed down to a 3rd grade level with the chords marked. Now, I stink at sight-reading, but I think even I can read a 3rd grade level. Throw a few chords on top of the melody and ta da! Adagios, cut time, duple meters, you name it, I got it. I’m hoping this little handy dandy fake book will be just the tool I need to confidently fake the funk. I mean, fake the Virtuosa.