Why we should be performing right now.
It’s easy to feel like performing - online, on the porch, or otherwise - is futile at the moment. (Most) of this repertoire has been here for centuries; it’s not going to go anywhere any time soon. We can forget, however, that performing and recording do more than just capture specific notes at specific times; we’re also capturing emotions and feelings specific to that moment in time. Unprecedented times, and their feelings and emotions, surely deserve to be documented.
Perhaps you, like me, are feeling overwhelmed by all there is to consume. Perhaps that overwhelming amount to consume is filtering in to your thoughts about performing. If you can’t muster the desire to watch other people’s performances, what value is there in presenting your own?
With so many live-streamed events (how else do we closely replicate the live concert experience?), giving yourself permission to watch later (perhaps even in the distant future) can feel like you’re missing the point. So why bother? Why bother watching? Why bother playing?
The better question is: what’s different in your playing? Just as we are the sum of our experiences, our playing is the sum of our emotions. Has the depth of your emotions changed in the past several months? Do you have more rage? More joy? More confusion? Isn’t it relevant?
When we become clouded by our own doubt and depression, it’s important to seek meaning in a larger purpose. Maybe performing doesn’t mean the same thing today that it did in February 2020. Just because the meaning changes, is its purpose not the same?
Despite the changes in format and delivery, performance is still about sharing. We need to keep performing. We need to keep sharing. What we’ve lost in social and physical connection, we can begin to recoup in musical connection.
I never imagined that hearing the Star Spangled Banner, played by our regional orchestra in the middle of a baseball diamond, would bring a tear to my eye. I can’t imagine this would have been the case in February. Now, though, we all bring a new emotions to the plate - performers and audience members alike.
Music is about sharing. It’s about shared experience. It’s about capturing this moment in time. It’s worth it.
“Good art originates not from the desire to show off but from the desire to show yourself. Good art always comes from our desperate desire to breathe, to be seen, to be loved. In everyday life, we are used to seeing only the shiny outer layer of folks. Art makes us less lonely because it always comes from the desperate center of the artist—and each of our centers is desperate. That’s why good art is such a relief.” - Glennon Doyle, from Untamed