I was trying to learn a piano accompaniment today ! It is not often that I feel the need to actually work out the black dots, but just occasionally I find that I must play something which is totally new to my poor hard worked fingers.
I can usually vamp and blag my way around most repertoire, even difficult music, especially when I have taught it many times or taught myself it years ago in my past life as a singer.
However, new and unknown songs prove more tricky. I suspect I rely on my previous ability to sing the stuff which has given me an overview of the piece, a feeling for the harmonies used and a confident approach towards a known world.
Today I was trying to dissect and understand the chords and harmonies, plus attempting to get to grips with the altogether more loose rhythms of the quite delightful song 'How Could I ever Know' from 'The Secret Garden.' This type of song is out with my normal musical perimeters, though having said that, I hear this song over and over in Songs from the Shows classes at festivals.
The puzzling part of all this is that I know the melody and the text, I understand the sentiment and the harmonic progressions and yet I still feel totally inadequate when it comes to allowing myself to 'let go' of the formality and tighter structure of my more normal area of expertise !
I sat at the piano for an hour. I worked it all out, I can play 'around' the chords and make a reasonable stab at supporting a singer ( well we hope!), but still my hands and brain want to find a comforting sense of 'four square' and solidity.
The thing of it is, I know that my lovely musical theatre trained, turned toe in the water opera singer, will perform it with a splendidly free passion, and a unique and innate sense of direction in the phrases. I, however, will be musically left behind, hopelessly unable to relocate myself in the cunning musical theatre spider's web, hoping against hope that she does not produce a gun from her prettily bedecked person, with which to shoot me when I vainly attempt to magically turn it into understandable (to me!) Mozart or Handel !
All my years of training. All my years of teaching and hard won experience. All the years of thinking that I wasn't too bad at the job come crumbling down like the walls of Jericho when faced with 3 pages of light musicalia. Ok, it is in 5 flats, but so is my favourite operatic aria.......... No excuses Miss L, get your act together and behave like a professional ! Trouble is, this isn't my little part of the musical map. Is there a musical theatre satellite navigation gizmo do you think !
I wish to give her my abject and on my knees grovelling apologies today. I'm not too proud to say sorry, and I will give it my best shot.
With luck she won't point her best shot in my direction !