Bath night in our house is the night I get to play the piano. Since last night was bath night, I played. This time, I did an experiment with myself and recorded myself playing.
Several years ago, I remember walking through my parents’ house, and I heard my favorite song to play on the piano, Chopin’s Nocturne Op. 9 No. 1. I walked into my parents’ room to see my dad working at the computer, transferring home videos. I stopped and watched the screen and realized it was me sitting there playing the song. I had practiced that song for hours and weeks and months before that performance, but I had never grasped that I actually sounded like a legitimate pianist. Listening to a song while you are playing is one hundred times different than hearing a playback of you playing the song.
So last night, out of curiosity (and hopeful courage to maybe share the playback), I started recording a video with my phone propped up at the end of the keys. But, as soon as I started playing, my fingers stumbled, and I kept hitting wrong notes.
I have never been a confident performer. I could always get to a place where my skill overcame my nerves, but it took hours of diligent practice. I had to practice enough so my playing was 80%-100% muscle memory to have a successful recital.
I find it a little humorous to know that even playing to a pretend, yet perceived, audience causes the same struggles for me as did live performances. I still play Chopin’s Nocturne because I think it’s absolutely beautiful, and it is the most technical song I have ever mastered. Unfortunately, I have lost a lot of my proficiency of the song. I still sit down each week and play it through, hoping that one day I’ll regain my mastery. Maybe someday I’ll be able to record me playing the entire song and share it. But, for now, I’ll play for my bubble-popping bathing beauties and their daddy.