Monday, November 14, 2016

Post concert reflections

This weekend I performed a Carnatic concert after a very long time - 4.5 years to be precise. Let me get straight to the point of this post. It was a fiasco in my opinion: I'm still reeling from the disappointment and had to vent. I've always been a reluctant performer. Especially lately, I've struggled with my identity as a singer - I identify myself much more easily as a rasika/ connoisseur, and theorist (and more recently, a teacher). Performing is something I've always had to push myself to do - there isn't much of a natural drive. But you know, having a good voice and having trained ever since I can remember, the right thing to do is to sing more, right? Immanuel Kant also contributed to my guilt: according to him it's immoral to not put one's talent to use/ practice. So while singing and performing don't give me the high that listening to, discussing and analyzing music does, I've tried to do it off and on. Sometimes it does make me feel very good, no doubt - but that doesn't happen as frequently as one might hope. Not that my earlier performances were great - I've never been happy after performing a concert - but this time it was nothing like before. I don't know what happened - I was simply not in the right headspace. I faltered big when singing kalpana swaras in one of the pieces in the middle of the concert and from there on it was only downhill. I've been pretty withdrawn and angry and disappointed in myself. I've been going through many phases. First I decided that I should stop performing and stick to what I know best: writing about music (and doing the little teaching that I do). Then I thought I need to perform at least once more to undo the damage, at least for myself. I'm back to shutting down now though. I'm pretty bad at coping with failure. But then again, when I think back, I feel this was bound to happen: what else can I expect after lack of practice (partly because of a very busy work schedule lately, and partly because of a personal lack of motivation to practice), and being completely out of touch with performing? I realize full well that actual singing is far from punditry and philosophizing about music, but sadly don't do much about it. Anyway, you don't have an option but to move on, and that's what I should do. But it's going to take a while.