Sunday, October 24, 2010
The Dangerous Creative Life
The soundman nodded at me with an encouraging smile.
I hummed the tune in my mind. "I Saw Three Ships" would flow smoothly into four other Christmas classics and then back to the first song for a reprise. I tapped out the first shaky notes. The few heads in the room swiveled around to look. I stared down at the dulcimer, determined to ignore any watching eyes.
My trembling eased. From one song to another, the notes rang out and bounced around the room. A smile grew in my anxious heart. This was going so well. The hammers were dancing across the strings with joyful abandon. Fifteen minutes of music...almost done.
The last notes of the reprise of "I Saw Three Ships" rang through the hall and I ran the hammers up the strings in a rising crescendo finish, then dropped my hands to my sides. That was fun! Why didn't I do this more often?
The handful of people in the room clapped. Wait--handful of people? Where was everyone? I glanced up at the soundman in confusion.
He frowned at me and made stretching motions with his hands. I looked up at the clock. Ten more minutes?
The piece took fifteen minutes to play. How had I done it in five? I shrugged at him. That's all the music I had learned. He gestured back at my dulcimer, mouthing the words: "Play it again!"
My stomach sank and I felt a flush crawl up my cheeks. "Slower this time," I warned myself. Only a few people were in the room, anyway. We'll just call that a warm-up.
Launching into the song, I slowly tapped out "I Saw Three Ships" for (ironically) the third time that morning. This nightmare would soon be over and I could go crawl under a pew and hide. Maybe this would be a good morning to volunteer in the nursery.
I missed a few strings here and there as my cheeks burned in embarassment. I raced toward the light at the end of the tunnel, my hammers bouncing over the strings to a second magnificent finish. I felt the sweat dampening my blouse. The sound guy hopping up and down on his raised platform in the back of the room. He twirled his finger around in the air in the universal musical symbol for "keep going!"