Preparing for December 9 recorder performance in Phipps Conservatory

It’s that time of year.

Phipps Conservatory candlelight evening

I just came back from another two-hour rehearsal (we’ve been having one every week) for an upcoming music gig.

I’ll be performing with five other recorder players in one of the Phipps Conservatory “candlelight evenings”, Sunday, December 9, from 6 PM to 8 PM.

Candlelight Evenings Nov. 25, 2012 - Jan. 6, 2013 Extended Hours: Open until 10 p.m. Winter Flower Show is even more enchanting at night - a time when glowing candles light the walkways and live music fills the air. Experience the magic for yourself as we remain open until 10 p.m. daily from Nov. 23 - Jan. 6.

Why this event is special to me

Today I reflect on having performed at Phipps last year as part of this recorder group, as the first time I ever performed music in public since I was a kid.

Last year

Last year I wrote at length about my anxiety and gratitude in anticipation of performing music.

I also wrote about the actual experience, after it happened.


Last year I was very grateful for the opportunity to play with Annie, Helen, Mike, and Karen of the Pittsburgh Recorder Society. I practiced diligently outside of our rehearsals to try to get my parts down as well as I could, knowing that I was still prone to various slips. I also chose to not participate in some of the pieces that I felt I could not handle yet at my skill level.

A year later, I’m far better a recorder player and musician. There’s no comparison between how I was a year ago and how I am now. Of course, I still have a huge amount of further improvement as I continue to play music; I plan to continue to make large improvements year after year, decade after decade! My attitude is: I have only just begun, after really just two years of practicing music seriously.

This year, Sam will join us also in performance, making six of us total. He’ll play not only recorder, but also bells and tambourines. This is going to be fun!

(Update of 2012-12-09)

It quickly turned out that we were only five, because Karen was not going to be available.


After a year of playing a lot of music, both in private and in public, my anxiety has decreased considerably, and each time I perform in public, in particular, I become less self-conscious. What I’ve learned is to let go of my ego, and remember that I am playing so that people will enjoy the music: this is not about me, not about my mistakes, not about my brilliance, not about any of that stuff at all. It’s about conveying emotion and beauty, however imperfectly, and people sense that and respond to that. With this attitude, the only thing that can truly go wrong is failing to connect to the audience.

Overall, I’m orders of magnitude less shy now as a musician, and more generally, as a human being, after a year of putting myself out there.


I look forward to playing again for a Phipps Conservatory “candlelight evening”. We have a lot of interesting new selections to play, with almost none of it being standard overdone Christmas carols.

If you’re in Pittsburgh on Sunday, December 9, consider stopping by for a candlelit evening in Phipps Conservatory and hearing us play!

(Update of 2012-12-09)

A report on the performance.

comments powered by Disqus