It was in May 2008, 11 years ago, that I first took my old Yamaha horn out of the closet and embarked on this journey to play horn again. The last time I had played anything more than a few notes was in 1972. It was April 3rd, 2009 that I wrote my first post in this blog.
I have come a long way since May 2008. I hardly write in this blog anymore and that’s because now change, or actually improvement, comes very slowly. In the beginning every day came with something to write about. There were so many ups and downs. Good days, mediocre days, horrible days, frustrating days. Days when I questioned why was I doing this? Fortunately I rarely question why now. I sit in the orchestra playing my part and luxuriate in the music making and that I am a part of it.
I wrote in my first post “My goal is to play better than I did back in college and I was a pretty decent hornist even if I do say so myself.” Uh, no. I was completely clueless about what it takes to be a good hornist back then. At least I can say that now I am better than I was then so I have met that goal. But that goal needs to be updated. I think the goal needs more to be about enjoyment and less about my ability to play well. But they really are intertwined. Enjoyment comes with playing well. Most of the time I can play what’s thrown at me in orchestra so that increases my enjoyment. If I have a solo I can handle it and not fall apart in the concert. This spring’s challenge is the 3rd horn part of Brahms Academic Festival Overture. Oh those triplets. But I’ve got it. Phew.
It’s not fun to have a part in front of you that is harder than you can handle. Five years ago that’s where I was for almost everything I was attempting to play. Looking at a part that had measures in it that no matter how hard I worked to learn it, I wasn’t technically able to play it yet. I really suffered through my degree program at LIU Post. I was forced to play pieces that I really wasn’t ready to perform. Required performances and juries were terrifying. I had massive performance anxiety because my brain went to all those passages that I knew I couldn’t play. The good news is that I developed a pretty thick skin and now, along with a lot more experience and ability, that thick skin serves me well.
Another thing I wrote in my first blog entry was, “I use this time (waiting for my horn to get fixed) wisely by ordering some music books. One of the pieces I order is Strauss 1. What am I thinking? Is this hope or insanity? I haven’t played a note in decades.” Well I am performing Strauss 1 with a pianist on June 1st in NYC. It only took 11 years.