It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas and along with holiday lights and temporary lots filled with fragrant greens, there are holiday concerts happening in towns everywhere.
Thursday afternoon, while scrolling through Facebook I noticed an announcement for a community orchestra concert in a town just twenty minutes from me. I didn’t know the city of Fenton even had a community orchestra.
The concert was free. What did I have to lose?
Turns out it was nothing but a win for everyone that attended, both the musicians and those of us in the audience. A multi generational musical organization, much like my own Clarkston Community Band, the group had a wonderful, full, sound, and played a variety of music, some of which most of us recognized.
I couldn’t help but smile through the whole thing.
Was the performance perfect? Of course not. There were times intonation was off, a few, rare, wrong notes. A squeak. But I learned something. I learned that, as an audience member, these small errors didn’t ruin the experience. Each little blip disappeared under layers of beautiful sounds, the overall enthusiasm of the musicians and music director, and the obvious love and support from the people around me in the audience.
I left the auditorium with a big smile on my face, humming Leroy Anderson’s Christmas Festival, something I’ve played multiple times, but had never heard while seated in an audience.
And on the drive home I thought about all the concerts I’ve played where I’ve been focused on the parts that didn’t go perfectly, felt bad afterwards because something had gone wrong. The reality is, for most in our audience, the overall experience at our concerts is probably good, maybe even great.
And if members of our audience leave our venue with smiles on their faces, maybe even humming a bit…well…then the concert was a success.
My own Clarkston Community Band played our holiday concert Friday night. We had less than an optimal number of rehearsals, and though I practiced, I was still nervous. The nerves were well founded, as I lost my way on one piece of music, missing almost an entire page of music before I could join back in.
But the reality is, one 2nd clarinet’s loss of concentration did not ruin the concert. Most likely no one but the clarinet playing next to me even knew. And the overall feeling of the evening was happy, fun, perhaps even joyful.
Cookies and cider at a reception for Santa afterward didn’t hurt either.
Happy Holidays, everyone! May all your days be warm and inviting and fun. And look around your community, there’s likely a group out there that would love to have you in the audience!
I guarantee you’ll be humming on the ride home.