Saturday, September 18, 2010

Magical Moment 226, "Trial by Fire"

My first day as a pianist for the New Jersey School of Ballet was not a disaster, so I guess that would make it a success? I never thought that sitting at a piano for 7 hours could be so exhausting. And I do mean 7 hours, not so much as a 5 minute break between classes. Each class demanded continuous music from the first exercise to the final minute, to include warm ups, cool downs, and stretching. Midway through the day, the company owner noticed me stretch my aching back and brought a seat cushion for the unforgiving, wooden piano bench. The instructor periodically reminded the dancers, "Tummies in! Head up!" And every time he did, I found that my own posture miraculously improved.

As I expected, the learning curve was steep. I quickly found that many of the pieces I practiced did not fit the atmosphere or style of the classes, so I was forced to play certain songs over and over. Once, I was caught like a deer in the headlights when the instructor raised his hand, cueing me to begin. "...Uh, is this a 4/4 or waltz or...?" I asked my in most professional voice, doing my best to suppress my freak-out mode breeze over the disruption.

I suppose there's no better way to learn than trial by fire. Now there is only room for improvement, which thankfully I will have the opportunity to do. I was grateful and relieved that my few mis-steps, didn't cause the dancers to miss a single one of theirs.