If ever evidence be offered or an explanation required, let it be this:
I spent the day in Monticello, like I do every Sunday. I left my place at 9:30 and arrived at 10:30 for the 11:00 service. I briefly rehearsed with the creepy guy who will not stop hovering me, I played the service, I had lunch with the choir director and his family, and at 2:00 I returned to church to practice.
So as to avoid burnout, I alternated between the Dahl sax concerto and the Shostakovich cello sonata. I was in the middle of a Dahl session when the door behind me opened. I had been warned, two of the choir ladies were coming to arrange Easter flowers. Being polite, I turned around to say hello. I apparently caught the last one off-guard, since she exclaimed when she saw me as she was coming through the door, “Oh! I thought it was a small child at the piano!” I turned back around and resumed practicing. I understand many people don’t like “modern” music, but they should probably realize that comparing what they hear to a small child’s attempt at imitation might not be the most tactful.
I became annoyed at Dahl, and possibly also the chatter bubbling behind me, so I switched back to Shostakovich and dove in headfirst, hoping to drown out the distractions. During a pause in which I successfully didn’t curse, the same woman asked me, “What are you playing!?” It was equally question and statement. She had this most fascinating half-exasperated tone that belied complete irritation with what she was hearing, mixed equally with curiosity and an attempt at politeness.
I took a breath and answered, “It’s the Shostakovich cello sonata.”
“Shostakovich. The sonata was written in 1934. I have to perform it Friday.”
“Friday, oh my.”
I threw in the year on the assumption it was written after she was born. Either way, she left me alone after that.
Ten minutes later I encountered her outside, sitting with her flower-arranging partner, the one who had previously identified Beethoven as “some of that modern music.” They were discussing piano, and pianists – so-and-so’s daughter, who can play any hymn without even the book in front of her, isn’t that just amazing! I attempted to offer some of the more interesting conventions of pianism, but each time they edged me out of the conversation.
I played a 4:30 rehearsal of terrible and terribly bastardized music, I played the 6:00 service. I was tired, still had to drive 40 minutes home, eat, practice, and rest up for another long day beginning at 9am. Unfortunately, before I could accomplish any of that, I had to play an extra rehearsal at 7:00, after service, on trio music arranged by a non-musician with no concept of “key.”
As it ended, the trio’s leader scheduled upcoming rehearsals; apparently they will all be after Wednesday rehearsals or Sunday services. He concluded it was a great idea:
Leader: That’ll work out just fine then.
Choir Director: Well, you’ll have to wait until after [other group] rehearses after Wednesday’s choir rehearsal, since they’re having one at 8pm.
Leader: Yeah, but [our third trio member] is already in that, so she’ll already be here. So I’m the only one that will have to stay!
Me: … [awkward silence]
Leader: And Liz of course! (tries to pinch my cheeks) Is that okay with you?
Me: I’ll have to play it by ear each week, it depends on my schedule, whether anyone needs a late rehearsal or not.
Leader: Well, yeah, you’ll just clear your schedule and it’ll be fine.
Yes, I will be sure to clear my professional recital rehearsals so I can stay until 8:30pm on a Wednesday night for an unpaid extra church rehearsal.
Pianists are people too.