23. March 2016 · 4 comments · Categories: Ramble

My internal, frequently negative, voice is one that rarely goes away but I’ve learned how to ignore and sometimes even silence it. I’ve also learned to accept that it’s there sometimes and I live with it.

But the external ones … well … WHAT to do about those?

A good time ago now, I made a huge blunder (and wrote about it on this blog, in fact) in a concert. I mean HUGE blunder. It was so humiliating and embarrassing and weep-worthy. That was difficult. About a month later a colleague told me that her section was dissed in the review of that concert and one of the players said, “I think the reviewer meant the English horn”. She thought I could handle the joke at that point. I smiled. I pretended I could handle it. But I didn’t handle it well at all and it brought back all the pain of that concert. Every time I look at that section of the orchestra now I wonder which one said that about me.

Then, this past Saturday night, I ran into a colleague prior to the concert. He looked at me a bit askance and said something like “Were you happy with your solo last night?” (Friday was our first concert.) He then asked, “Were you nervous?” He went on for a while about this, actually. “I mean … you sounded good…”, he said rather hesitantly.

Well, that wasn’t what I needed to hear prior to playing the same solo again. I puzzled over what he meant. Was it not good enough for him? Did I sound nervous? Did I look unhappy?

These are not things we want to think about and dwell on when we have solos. WHY he said those things to me is a mystery. I don’t know him as well as maybe he thinks I do. Was he serious? Was he joking? I honestly don’t have a clue! I just know it set up major “doubt voices” in my head.

The solo went fine, but I have to admit the entire time I was thinking, “Is THIS good enough for you, [insert name here]? Do I sound nervous?”

That is no way to enjoy a solo. But so it goes. I may be used to be internal voices but these external ones? Doubtful I’ll ever get used to those!

Side note: speaking of those external voices. The very same evening of my HORRIBLE NO GOOD SOLO some years back a colleague came up before to tell me I was his favorite English horn player and proceeded to go on and on. Then I made the blunder. Since then he’s not only never complimented me, but has never looked me in the eye again. I always wonder if he just felt bad saying all that on my off night or if he’s not gotten over my bad playing. Funny how that goes ….


  1. I am sorry for your bad night, but it’s good for us amateurs to hear that even professionals have off days.

  2. Thanks, Sus! Fortunately I’ve not had such a bad time in many years now, but that one was a horror. This past weekend wasn’t of that ilk, really … just annoying!

  3. patti with an i

    Sigh. People are so weird and insensitive sometimes. But you know, if I were in the shoes of nameless colleague, I would have been convinced that I had jinxed you and it was all my fault, and felt so horrible I would have just tried to shrink into the woodwork forever, as well as being sure that you were calling down all the curses of whomever on my head. So maybe that’s part of it. Sort of like when I damaged my viola – this was probably 20 years ago – and I basically hid from the maker for 3 years after that because I felt unworthy of it.

  4. Yes, I had thought that might be the case, Patti. Guess I’ll never know for sure, as I don’t want to ask. I sort of DO want to ask the person who talked to me Saturday night why he said what he did, but of course I don’t have the guts. Ah well … what a life we live, eh?