If there were three words that I could impart as wisdom, it would be those. Just. Show. Up. If you want to get ahead in your job, just show up. If you want to get to know your friends better, just show up. If you want to be counted on as a reliable volunteer, team member, or mentor, just show up. If you want to be given responsibility and be taken seriously. Just show up. Tonight I experienced the rewards for just showing up. But first, some thoughts.
It’s amazing how many opportunities can be lost because someone simply decides to stay home. In a new situation it’s much easier to chicken out and stay put instead of going out your front door. I’ve done it plenty of times. And excuses are easy to come by – I don’t want to be embarrassed. I don’t know exactly how to get there. I won’t know anybody. I don’t know what it’s going to be like. I don’t care enough.
When I taught piano my students’ parents told me they were impressed by how responsible I was for my age, being punctual and accommodating to try to make it to every lesson. I was a little surprised because the showing up part didn’t seem that big of a deal. The hard part was the teaching, or mentally showing up. Physically, sometimes showing up is hard, and extremely inconvenient. I had to drive through 45-60 minutes of DC traffic every time, but I did it. And after a while showing up got pretty easy. (Side note: I can’t stress the importance of being on time. Being on time in my opinion is an important and instant sign of respect.)
So tonight I had an audition. Last weekend an email went out that SU’s orchestra is going to do some works that have piano or celesta parts and would like to audition any pianists who were interested. I dismissed the idea at first because I haven’t played piano professionally in a long time and I didn’t feel a week was quite enough time to get ready for an audition. But I thought, what the heck?, and I want to get my name and face out there, so I wrote back and signed up for a time.
Let me be clear that my goal in this audition was simply to meet the director and have something to work on. In the original email the audition would consist of one prepared piece and then some sightreading. I knew the works for the orchestra were almost all 20th century music so I was really worried about the sightreading. But I practiced what I could and worked on a Brahms piece I keep in my back pocket for auditions and such.
I almost didn’t show up. I almost emailed and said thanks but no thanks. What was the point of doing all this when I knew that there were going to be much better and in-shape pianists auditioning? But after listening to my gut, and being told by a friend that I better audition!, I decided to go through with it. So I showed up. I walked into a choral rehearsal room and the director was there by himself. He was nice and asked me about myself. I told him my background and then he let me warm-up a bit on the piano. He came back and I started my Brahms piece. About two-thirds through the piece he said “thank you” (the words you’re always listening for during an audition to know when to stop playing) and I braced myself for the sightreading music he was going to put in front of me.
Instead, he said “great! I would love if you could play with us.”
Uh, what? Sorry?
From what I can gather I don’t think there were many people who auditioned and I suppose my Brahms was good enough for him, so he brought me on board. Not only that, he is going to put my name in an email to all of the orchestra students in case someone needs an accompanist (which is HUGE). So I’m going to get to play with an orchestra, something I’ve always wanted to do! And we start Monday. And I get credit but don’t have to pay for it.
Moral of the story, you never know what the situation is going to be like, so just make the effort! Preparation was important of course, but all I really did was show up. Here is one of the pieces we’ll be playing: