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Measuring Success

I’ve been reading a lot of hype online about Idina Menzel’s “poor” (not my words) live, outdoor performance in NYC on New Year’s Eve. I watched it. There were maybe two times that I could hear some imperfections in an otherwise solid, enthusiastic, and meaningful performance. Did I mention that it was live and outside in NYC?! She was singing a range-testing, vocal-chord busting song in probably 20-degree (F) weather (I’m guessing at the temp — I didn’t see the forecast, but it was nighttime in NYC and cold). That temp alone is hard to even talk in, let alone belt out such a huge piece of music, and she did it admirably! She later mentioned on social media that she doesn’t get every single note right in every single number she ever sings, but that’s not how she measures success. I love her honesty. I can’t, obviously, speak for her, but I measure success in part by my own satisfaction and by the ability to communicate and create “magic” in the eyes (ears) of my listeners. When someone comes up to me after a recital excited by the performance or some aspect of the performance that moved them, touched them, or “wow-ed” them, then I’ve done my job. I gave them a musical experience – even a “mini-vacation,” if you will. I’ve succeeded. Did I get every note correct? Unlikely. But who cares? Does that make me any less a musician? Does that make me any less a person? I’m human. Idina is human. We are all human. We are all perfectly imperfect. Is any professional musician ever 110% happy with a performance? We are all perfectionists trying to achieve something that’s not even possible: perfection. But, take the perfectly imperfect human element out of music, well, then, it’s not real. It’s simply not real. If you look at the faces of the people in the crowd as she was singing, it’s obvious they were moved. It’s obvious they were touched by her performance in some way. She did her job. She succeeded as a musician. Let’s drop the overly critical, imperfection microscope and just relax and let music move you. Allow yourself to be vulnerable and touched by music.

Author:

I have been active as a freelance performer since 1992 and as a teacher since 1996. I currently serve as Second Flute with the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic orchestra and have performed with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Indianapolis Chamber Winds, Terre Haute Symphony Orchestra, Danville (Illinois) Symphony Orchestra, Bloomington Symphony Orchestra, Bloomington Chamber Singers Orchestra, and the United States Collegiate Wind Band’s European Tour, among other ensembles. I have also enjoyed performing for various occasions such as formal and charitable recitals as well as giving master classes at Butler University in Indianapolis and at Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky. I am also Adjunct Professor of Flute at Indiana Wesleyan University. I earned a Master of Music in Performance with Distinction at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, England studying with Peter Lloyd and Laura Jellicoe. While in England, I played in charitable concerts for St. Augustine’s Catholic Church. I was featured as a soloist at the Pennine Spring Music Festival in Heptonstall, England in addition to performing in the music festival’s orchestral and solo events. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Performance with Distinction at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music where I studied principally with Kathryn Lukas. While at Indiana University, I also had the incredible opportunity to study for several weeks with Barbara Kallaur on baroque flute, Donald Peck, Thomas Robertello, and Kate Hill. I am lucky to be the mother of three beautiful and talented children, and I play on a wonderful David Straubinger 10K gold flute with 14K head joint.

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