Mar. 11th, 2008 10:35 pm
lihtox: (Default)
I discovered this evening that, contrary to previous speculation, I'm overly annoyed by music directors even if I'm playing an instrument instead of singing. I've been playing monthly with the Dallas Recorder Society, and most of the time the fellow in charge just hands out music, we read it through a couple of times, comment on how nice it is, and then move on to the next piece. Well, this evening, there was a visitor from Austin (who used to live in Dallas) who had brought along some music, and he wanted to polish articulations and all that. It got very tedious very quickly, and I slumped in my chair in an obvious way: when someone commented, I said that this was triggering my conductor-phobia, and that "I don't like having people tell me what to do" (in what I hoped was a not-too-serious tone). I was hoping for some sympathy, but instead I got "But you can't avoid it in music", which is silly because we get along just fine every month with minimal direction. I didn't get to explain myself and I didn't get any sympathy, so I was rather sulky the rest of the time and slipped out at the end without comment.

This didn't used to be a problem, when I was in high school and even the first two years of college. It could be because I had a taste of directing myself and so crave power...but I didn't FEEL like I wanted to direct the group, I just wanted our usual, pleasant sort of semi-anarchy: I didn't even disagree with what he was saying (which is my usual problem in choirs). Maybe it was a knee-jerk reaction coming after my failed choir experiences in Chicago. It could simply have been that he changed the format of the rehearsal suddenly, and I'm a conservative person by nature.

One thing that occurred to me, relevant or no, is that music had always been a source of affirmation for me. Once I got to 8th grade or so I started realizing that I was a good singer, and my directors started noticing too, and treating me accordingly. It's not that they went out of their way to praise me constantly, which might have gotten embarrassing, but it was that I felt appreciated and valued. That may be the emotion which kept me going through the boredom and frustration. When I look at the point in time where choral singing stopped being fun, it correlates with a loss of appreciation: in my first choir in Chicago I felt like a drone, and was subsequently kicked out; in my second choir there were enough good tenors that I wasn't anyone special. Maybe this sounds ridiculously egotistical, but external affirmation is really important for me, and my self-esteem tends to crash without it. It's probably no accident that my difficulties with work in graduate school coincided with my loss of performance as a place to shine: going from college to graduate school, I went from being a somebody to being a nobody, and I haven't really recovered from that.

However, as I write all this I think of a glaring exception: while I was in Boston I sang with my church choir, where I was easily the best singer except for the director. I was certainly appreciated and valued there, so much so that I stayed with the choir longer than I would have wished so as not to disappoint them, but I found their rehearsals to be excruciatingly dull: I would quite literally feel a desire to bang my head against a wall sometimes. Why? Well, I do remember one resentment from those times: I always wanted to do more solo work, maybe even fill in as cantor for the director, but it didn't happen.

OK, this is starting to sound really pretentious and it's making me feel bad, so I'll just stop here.


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