Knowing that the organ differed from my practice organ, I went to the chapel Wednesday morning, where I was able to play my piece for the first time on that organ. It went fairly well, but there were a couple of pedal notes that I wasn't playing consistently. Here's why. This is the flat pedal board on the pipe organ:
And this is the concave radiating AGO pedal board on my organ that I'm used to:
Now, it's an adjustment to play on a flat pedal board, but not a huge one. The middle notes are all pretty much the same, but the extreme highs and lows aren't. For the most part, I was playing the pedals just fine. There were two spots in my piece where I struggled. I jump down to the low D at one point, and at another I jump up to middle C.
After leaving the chapel that day, I concentrated my practice on cleaning up my left hand technique and working on finding corner chromatics for my pedal notes (bumping against a sharp to find the right natural note).
Friday morning I played my piece perfectly, over and over again. My left hand was clean, my hands had great non-legato technique, and I was finding my pedal notes from the sharps. I knew that I'd be just fine, but wanted to run through the piece on the pipe organ again, just to make sure. That was a mistake!
Friday evening I arrived early and played through my piece on the pipe organ again, missing those same pedal notes that I thought I finally had down. I was frustrated, and my confidence crumbled. All through the potluck dinner, I just knew that I would struggle with playing the pedals properly.
Finally, when the recital began (I was scheduled to play in the middle) I realized that I needed to feel confident, or I would just crash and burn. I tried to feel excited about this opportunity, and to feel confident in my preparation. I knew that a wrong pedal note is not the end of the world, and I also knew that my feet knew what to do if I just trusted them. I tried to turn my attitude around. I immersed myself in Bach and tried to let the music wash over me.
When it was my turn to play, I was nervous, but really wanted to convey the beautiful message of my simple piece. It began well, but as I approached the difficult spots, I began to focus solely on my feet. A couple of times my left hand just forgot to play! I remember thinking, "Really?"
When all was said and done, my feet played the piece pretty much perfectly, yet my hands had turned to mush! I felt that I did have the spirit of the music in my soul and hope that at least that message came through my train wreck of a performance. I was so disappointed, but at least I had changed my attitude and was able to continue the piece without grinding to a stop in the middle.
Why did this happen?
A while back I posted on getting the brain out of the way. That advice always works for me. If I approach the organ with confidence, knowing that I'm prepared, it comes through in my playing. Unfortunately, I didn't feel comfortable on the organ Friday night, and it definitely showed, to my great embarrassment.
Afterwards, everyone was kind, and I'll chalk it up to a learning experience. After all, it was only the second official recital I've ever played for...