it’s the weekend, time for a leftover

by pieces of moments

something i jotted in chicago o’hare during my recent massive layover there that i couldn’t post up here because i didn’t want to pay for the wifi:

“Every item counts, if you have three items we will ask you to consolidate” was one of the unusually abundant amounts of instruction I heard this morning at the airport waiting for my flight to Chicago. These mid-week mid-morning flights are a pleasantly relaxed affair with everyone (including the airline desk attendants) moving at a slightly less frantic and annoyed pace. Hence, the grandiose amounts of announcements, instructions, and tips this morning as we were boarding.

Something about the attendant’s statement caught my year, however. The sentiment that everything matters, everything counts and is in no way superfluous or incidental is something I think about on a daily basis as a musician. Replace the word “item” with “note” and you get the idea. Every note counts. Another way of expressing the sentiment is “play like you mean it”.

I know I have talked about this previously, but I can’t say it enough: play it like you mean it, with intention, conviction, passion, sympathy, empathy. I evaluate hundreds of performances over the course of a year, and the thing that consistently separates the excellent from the merely very, very good is that excellent performances don’t toss away any note or any phrase because every note counts. Something I remember very clearly from my childhood attending numerous concerts was that my mother would, after hearing a particularly good performance, would say one sentence “you could hear every single note”. It’s something that confronts me every day in the practice room, too. Am I letting every note, every possible harmony or internal contrapuntal conversation live? When it works it is such a divinely beautiful thing, like nothing on earth.