Unprepared

Last evening, our handball choir performed in a musical holiday extravaganza put on by the local college at our church. We played along with the Community choir, college vocal ensembles, college band, and smaller vocal and instrumental ensembles for a very ambitious 90 minute program.

Our practice schedule was interrupted by COVID early in the fall, and we never caught up. We weren’t prepared for all our pieces last night, and our main goals were to not get lost in the music and to end together. Only an experienced bell ringer would have caught our mistakes, but we each felt our individual errors keenly. I made mistakes and got lost in places I never got lost in before. Husband described it afterwards as a musical ordeal. I believe it was Gustav Holst who said that if it is worth doing, it is worth doing badly. We are just relieved it is over and now we can focus on our last two performances on December 17 and 19.

Any performances you would like to forget about? What pageants have you participated in?

37 thoughts on “Unprepared”

  1. I’m the worst ringer in Hope Church’s (Holland, MI) small bell ensemble. We played the call to worship on Reign of Christ Sunday a few weeks ago. I had only 3 bells to supervise, and two key changes to get through. After the second change, my sound was off. I discovered, after a few measures, that my bells were in the wrong hands. Fixed it, but still, I remember.

    Liked by 7 people

  2. “…like to forget about?” but you want to stir the memories?! Evil! Evil!🙂
    Okay then.
    My stand up comedy performance at an open mike night. Five minutes of hell trying Bill Cosby-like story telling about taking my 2 years old great nephew to the zoo. I put in way too much detail and was only halfway through when the five minutes was up. The moderator was frantically flashing his camera as a signal to finish as other performers were waiting their turn. I had visions of a hook pulling me off stage. I know what flop sweat fear 😨 is like.

    Liked by 7 people

  3. Too many to list all of them. One of my school choirs was performing at my church. The piano was right below an air vent. In the middle of one song, the air flow blew the music off the piano. I had to stop playing, pick up the music, and try to find the right spot to resume. Fortunately the director just kept the kids singing. Since then, I three hole punch the music and put it in a three ring binder. Page turning during performances can be challenging so I make “accompanist” copies (make a copy at 85% size, cut out the vocal parts, and just have the piano part so there are only 2 or maybe three page to deal with -I know, I know – copyright infringement. But the copy is only for my use and I recycle when done). Even so, at an outdoor venue the wind kept turning pages at inopportune times . I now carry clothespins or bag clips for that situation. Several times I have gotten lost during a performance – with no words on my copy of the music, it isn’t easy to figure out where I’m supposed to be. At one concert I forgot the D.S. and continued on to the coda. I ended up improvising for a fairly long stretch while frantically trying to find the right place. Again, the director just kept the kids singing so hopefully not too many people realized I was lost.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. Our high school choir director had us practice what to do if someone fainted during a performance, which involved closing ranks around the inert body and going on as though nothing had happened. Since I sang right in the middle of the second row, I was the one who he asked to pretend to faint so everyone could learn what to do.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. The safety officer in me, Not to mention Bathtub Safety officer Rafferty, has a real problem with this!
      One rehearsal here, a girl fell off the back of a riser. Security was called, an ambulance was called, people went outside to direct the fire department / ambulance where to go. Course the first fire truck to arrive drove past our person waving wildly (because they always go to the main door first). The conductor, meanwhile, kept going because he thought the girl was a drama queen. Well, no matter, he didn’t know if or how she may have hit her head. Turns out she was OK, but gee whiz.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I never felt like a good enough trumpeter to play a solo. And yet I got talked into it one Easter Sunday. Practiced and practiced and was a nervous wreck.
      In the middle of the solo, I had sort of a burp, swallow, something that of course I had to stop for a sec and the sound cracked and I was horribly mortified and when done, packed up and went home and we never spoke about it again.
      I realize it wasn’t that bad, but back then, to me, it was.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. My performance days are lost in the mists of time, but I had a pretty solid professional career backstage.

    Things must have been pretty intense at some point because I had a nightmare that has stuck with me for years: for some reason, I suddenly had to go on. I knew every single line, but had no idea where I was supposed to be onstage or what I was supposed to be doing and the cast was FURIOUS with me.

    About a half hour after I jerked awake, it occurred to me, “hey, I was doing everyone a favor, you’d think they would cut me some slack”

    Which of course in real life, they absolutely would have. The actual “drama queens” I had to work with were few and far between.

    Liked by 6 people

  6. I am blessed with no musical talent. Thus no bad performances. My one act play for directing class went completely off the rails. Lee Adey assigned students at random. One went up several times (only two characters). The other then got distracted. Lee told me to go up and start them over. It did not help much. A fellow student decided to stand on apron and prompt. We were close by then in the class, having been together for three quarters. They were dying for me watching it all.
    I did have some directing success on HS and community theater. I twice rescued plays in a mess from very amateur directors. Both were large cast musicals of plays I do not like. But musical director and I put it all together.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    My High School years were filled with band festivals, mostly honor bands in Iowa. I do not remember any major disasters with those. Here in Eden Prairie as an adult, though, I remember a disaster. There was a band director here who just lived for band festivals featuring mass bands in gymnasiums. I never cared much for those, but after a disastrous one, I stopped participating. This guy loved to get all the beginner bands from elementary schools in a room to play with the Middle School, High School, and Community Band which I played in. I think this concept was a great success when Eden Prairie was a tiny exurb and the bands would gather for a total of 200 people. Fast forward to the 1990s when Eden Prairie grew to a large suburb. The parking alone for the event became unworkable. The gymnasium floor would hold over a thousand musicians, which then required 5 or 6 sub-directors posted on podiums distributed throughout the crowd.

    While attempting to play the pieces this band director chose, the directors watched him and we watched the sub-directors as the heat in the room increased and the echos of some poorly played piece bounced from wall to wall. It was miserable. At the final one in which I participated one side of the gym finished their rendition of a piece about 15 seconds before the middle and opposite side of the gym finished theirs. I heard from the attendees that it sounded not like a song, but like racket.

    Mercifully, somebody, somewhere finally killed this event.

    Liked by 5 people

  8. I’ve never done a solo performance. The closest I’ve come was being part of a piano recital when I was in grade school. I was in a couple of pageants during that time as well, but I don’t think anyone expects those to come off without a hitch, and sure ours didn’t, though I don’t recall anything out of the ordinary.

    The single most, shall we say, “unique” performance I recall, took place maybe thirty-five years ago at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul. It was a “concert” with Brian Bowers. It started out fine with a couple of songs and auto harp tunes, but then he began telling stories from his younger days. Now Brian is quite the story teller, and he had some doozies to tell, and did. Turns out he was stoned out of his mind, and has only a vague recollection of that evening, something he admitted quite a few years later as he stepped onto that same stage. He asked any audience member who had been in attendance at that previous concert that he was trying to forget it, and that he hoped we would too.

    Talking about “old timers,” did you all hear that Scott Alarik and Bill Staines both died within the past few days? Scott suddenly, and a cause of death has not been reported. Bill Staines had announced a recurrence of a very aggressive form prostate cancer just three weeks ago. He died yesterday.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is Clyde.
      I should try once again to straighten out the WP mess that gives me a nonexistent identity on my computer but not on iPad and iPhone.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Like MiG, so many years in theater and working events… there’s far too many stories and mostly are only interesting to the ones involved. Which tend to get repeated ad nauseum over and over at cast parties. (The more alcohol, the louder the stories get)

    I’ve seen a few bands, even at the college level, start a song and have to stop and recollect and make sure everyone was on the same page (There was a director here who was a little scattered; sometimes he’d tell the audience one thing, turn around and the band would tell him what they were going to play. He’d turn back to the audience and clarify, yeah, that’s what he meant).

    There was a time, the Christmas concerts here at the college made me ornery for a week. They were just unorganized and there was a total lack of respect to anyone and I drank heavily for that week.
    It’s better now. 🙂
    However this year, the choir teacher got Covid 10 days ago… concert is this Friday night. No one is really sure what’s going on. But we’re decorating and pretending we’re having a concert. The piano accompanist is leading the choir in rehearsals and it will probably all be fine. Or at least fine enough…

    Liked by 3 people

  10. I don’t know if this will count as performance anxiety or not. When I first started in the bakery business I worked in a bakery in Milwaukee where we made dozens of cakes ahead of time and they sat in the freezer until someone purchased them. Then the sales person would come back with the cake and we pipe the greeting on it. For the first four or five months, even though my handwriting was perfectly acceptable, if someone were standing too close watching me, my hands would shake. So they all got in the habit of bringing the cake back and then walking to the other side of the room. After about a few months I got over that so then you could stand over me and watch me pipe “happy anniversary grandma and grandpa” in a 2 in.² area and it didn’t bother me.

    Liked by 3 people

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