I did something new yesterday.
Alliance, Ohio has a symphony orchestra, and I filled in for an unwell horn player in its most recent concert. We performed at a park in Alliance as part of its annual Carnation Festival—the town is known as Carnation City.
There is actually an interesting story behind that designation—in the 1860s, a doctor in Alliance who grew red carnations in his greenhouse ran for a congressional seat against his friend William McKinley. Before each debate, he gave McKinley one of his carnations, and McKinley wore them all the way to the White House. Now, every year on his birthday, red carnations are placed in the hands of a McKinley statue in Columbus.
Well, back to the concert. This town is about an hour from Small Town, I know because it's where I used to go for horn lessons, and I had the route emblazoned in my brain. Still, for this fill-in concert, I often found myself showing up ridiculously early for rehearsals and even the concert—more on that later. To keep myself amused, I took pictures with my iPhone and then played with them on my Instagram app.
Here is one I took of the empty rehearsal stage:
And here is one of a collection of ladders out of sight from the potential audience:
And here is me playing with pictures at the park before the concert:
So, about this showing up early business. When I first began playing horn in groups of experienced musicians, I would work myself into a froth before each event, no matter how friendly and unthreatening it all was. To me, it was all one big threat to my well-being, my self-esteem, my delicate psyche.
I have outgrown most of that, recognizing that the experience of playing with other people actually did amazing things for my well-being, my self-esteem, my delicate psyche. But here is what I still do—I over-compensate when making sure I don't arrive late. I leave my house way too early and end up sitting in the empty auditorium waiting for everyone else to arrive, taking pictures and playing Boggle. I don't do that with the local group, but I apparently do it outside of that comfortable homeland orchestra.
I also obsess over the preparation. When you get your music ahead of a rehearsal, the envelope also contains an information sheet with the personnel list, the program list, times and dates for rehearsals, time and date of the concert and instructions for what and what not to wear at show time. Locally, we aren't allowed to wear perfume or cologne, which is reasonable; and women are instructed not to wear flashy jewelry, and the manager suggests that we wear pearls instead, because everyone has pearls, she says. To that, I say make me. But regardless, I read through this list of instructions, and then I read through it again, and again. And after I am dressed and on the road headed to the concert, I will sometimes have to peek at the information sheet just to make sure I've got it right. Nuts, huh?
Well, nuts or not, I did something new. I didn't work myself into a froth over it. And I dressed appropriately.