I was always under the impression that if you’re “feeling it” when you write or perform, your audience is bound to pick up on your vibe. I was convinced that you should always trust your own impressions when creating or performing. I have to refine that idea after this weekend.
I was listening to a chorus conductor who had chosen a musical setting of an ancient Persian poet, Rumi. When he read the poem to us before the performance, I was moved nearly to tears. Yet when he performed the music with the chorus, I was not moved at all.
At first I thought perhaps it wasn’t a very good piece of music, perhaps not an effective setting of the text. I didn’t think it was the conductor’s fault, because he had been so phenomenal on all the other pieces. But then something occurred to me.
As a conductor, he’s got to check his own reaction to the music he’s hearing, like a cook in front of a soup pot, making changes until it’s “just right.” But what if he has an automatic reaction to this music, because of the text? Suppose he doesn’t make any changes, doesn’t even really prepare the chorus properly, because the words already move him and he assumes everyone else is feeling the same way?
This has certainly happened to me as a writer, where I’m excited by what I’ve written, and continue to be excited when I read it. And yet, I might not have provided enough of what’s in my head to the readers for them to also be excited. I have to be extremely careful, both as a creator and a performer, that I have done due diligence to provide what I have learned the audience needs in my work: orientation, structure, balance.
And maybe we should all be careful, performers or not, as we communicate with each other. We regularly speak and post about the world, based on what we think is the whole truth. Can we still trust ourselves to communicate and share, when we may be giving a very fragmented, even incorrect perspective?
I think I can trust myself if I’ve done the work. If I’ve shared with others and gotten their feedback, and made a decision about whether it meshes with my own opinion, then I’m willing to stick to my guns. I have to be brave enough to consider that my own “truths” may only be true in my own internal world, and that in order for it to be a trustworthy truth, it will have to survive in a larger one.