Maybe the Mayans Were Just Predicting the End of Concert Season
Sunday, December 02, 2012
Oh, concert season. The time of year singlehandedly most responsible for my health downfall. When it is physically impossible to run between rehearsals and lessons and dress rehearsals and concert prep in the proper amount of time, and where you only eat if you have a sandwich in your car or you race through the emptiest drive-thru in town. Where you call the tire center three days ahead of when your studs are supposed to be in, just to see if they can mount and balance said tires beforehand and actively look for your car so you can be in and out in ten minutes.
They did, by the way. Free publicity for the awesomeness of the people at Les Schwab.
I do my best to stay on top of things this time of year, when on top of my normal work hours, I'm doing ten concerts/recitals in the span of three weeks. (Which, by the way, is significantly lighter than other years I've had!) But the truth is, it's hard when I get home at 9:30 pm and haven't had a chance to eat dinner, and have only been able to sneak in a glass of orange juice as I was dashing out the door this morning, and a half-sandwich in my office at the college in between warming up students for their vocal recital.
On the upside, I tend to sleep REALLY well.
But all in all, I tend to feel a little like a Hanukkah dreidel. I spin and I spin for all the world to see, until I finally topple over, completely out of juice.
The only solution that I've found is preparation, paired with whatever balance you can find. Two things, by the way, at which I am magnificently bad. It basically requires a night where I actively sit down and determine how I'm going to turn my life on its head for the next few weeks so I don't feel overwhelmed on an apocalyptic level.
I pack my lunch (and often dinner) the night before so at least I'm eating the salad I prepared instead of at the Taco Bell by the college. I meticulously plan and write out each day, squeezing every last ounce of time I have so that I can do what I need to do and not overwhelm myself. I pre-plan dinner every night and do all necessary grocery shopping beforehand. And I set a stopping point each night, after which I am no longer allowed to do anything that isn't relaxing (and I stop taking calls from parents about their students.)
I also do my Christmas shopping online, instead of fretting about taking the time out of my schedule to drive to the nearest shopping center an hour away.
During the storm, it's insane but it's worth it. I love performing. It's an amazing feeling to be an active part of the Christmas season. To be on stage, singing songs about the birth of Jesus to a family who makes this a part of their holiday traditions every year. It's magical. But it's not just about that.
I think I love the concerts where my students are performing most of all. I love giving pep talks to my nervous students, because now my job has turned from coaching them on getting it right to coaching them on how to get through the day. "You've done this all term," I say. "Your game right now is just a mental one. I've been there a hundred times, but the part your brain isn't telling you is that you KNOW this stuff. I know that. And I think you do too. So now, you just have to do it. Lock everything else away in your brain and be confident in that knowledge. You're going to be fine."
And then, their faces when they get done, when people are applauding. When they get a compliment from the dean of the college, who was sitting in the audience (and then when they turn white because I just told them who it was.) And when they realize that they've done something incredible through hard work and practice. It's all worth it, every minute.
This is what I do.
And then, when all is said and done, I pick up the pieces of my life. I clean the house again -- because my bedroom, at least, has been ransacked three separate times because I can't find my conducting baton/car keys/pitch pipe/hair brush/sense of humor. Then I decorate the Christmas tree. Clean out my car (which is where all of my music, dress shoes, and lunch leftovers go to die.) I take a bath. Shave my legs -- because I honestly haven't remembered for the last three weeks. Drink a cup of tea. Re-watch a few episodes of Firefly.
And thank God I don't have to do this again until the end of May.