Monday, May 18, 2015


Science fiction comedy writer Douglas Adams liked to say "I love deadlines. I love the wooshing noise they make as they go by."

I am not such a fan of the wooshing noise. That may be because Adams was a writer, with an editor whom he could enjoy infuriating, whereas I am a performer who has to face an audience, and while my audience is generally in the low hundreds, not being a pop star who sells out open-air stadiums or anything, still, that is a lot of people to look stupid in front of. So I try not to.

When a deadline comes, it comes. There is no postponing it. In the church musician part of my life that makes a deadline every Sunday, which is pretty often. Concerts, rehearsals, take place at regularly irregular intervals as well. And often there is not really enough time to practice.

One of my conductors liked Leonard Bernstein's quote that in order "to achieve great things, two things are needed. A plan, and not quite enough time." Only I think she left off the word "quite" which is to me rather important.

In any case, I get tired of deadlines and the stress they can cause, particularly if one is not able to plan very far ahead. Usually I try to begin working on pieces for church a few weeks in advance, and a concerts a few months ahead, but this semester there has been a great deal of practicing for the next week only. This was necessitated by an unusual number of external issues that took time away from practice.  So it is with great relief that, now that the spring concert season is over, I can move into a summer with far fewer deadlines.

I've also started to work a little bit ahead once again, which is so invigorating I can't recommend it enough. Of course, tonight I have a voice recital to practically sight-read, but after that....ah. Time to be scholarly. And reflective. And to work fast without really having to work fast. On almost whatever I want! Or to put something away for a few days and then look at it again...and then shelve it. Until, magically, I am ready to play it, not because I am out of time.

I feel I am gloating.  Perhaps it is not me at my most attractive. But can you feel the sympathetic thrill of un-forced labor on something you love to do? I hope you get to experience it also. Enjoy your summer.

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