I mentioned in my last post that Life keeps giving us new challenges to grow from. My current challenge has to do with performing and memorization.
I haven’t done much playing from memory since my early 20’s, when I was used to performing solo repertoire from memory on a regular basis. One of the reasons is the following. When I was about 22, I had a negative experience while playing a very challenging solo piece with orchestra, the Chausson Poeme, which instilled a lot of fear in me about playing from memory in public. So it wasn’t until decades later that I began daring to play new pieces in public again. I still do it very rarely.
You might wonder what the negative experience was, so I’ll tell you:
I was performing as the soloist with the orchestra, with perhaps hundreds of people in the audience, when all of a sudden I realized that I had been playing the entire first page mindlessly, completely on automatic pilot! It was almost as if I had been unconscious and was suddenly waking up from a coma! My shock in coming back to myself was tremendous. Thankfully, I was able to keep on playing without making any mistakes, and nobody noticed. But I was so shaken and disconcerted that I could have performed such a difficult piece in such a public situation without any awareness of it at all. My mind was NOT there, and I had no idea know where it/I was!