I participated in a small concert today at the Ogden Botanical Gardens. I say "small" because there was maybe, like...10 peeps in the audience. Admittedly, I didn’t want to be there either. It was 100 degrees in the middle of a busy Saturday. It was hard for me not to whine and feel an extra amount of crankypants. Sitting in the extreme heat, I wondered why the scheduling committee arranged for our band to play during the very last hour of the Arts Festival, when everyone was already gone. The view from the saxophone section was of several overheated senior citizens and the few remaining arts festival peeps tearing down their booths.
I felt annoyed. I felt hot, frustrated and kept wondering why I keep showing up for stuff like this because I have absolutely zero free time in my schedule.
And then, the music started. We had too long of a play list to finish it within the hour we were allotted, and promised the minuscule audience they could hear the rest of it at our next concert. As soon as the last applause ended, I bolted. I couldn't get to my air conditioned vehicle soon enough. So when a hippy looking "bro" approached me en route to my air conditioned "mecca," I was in little mood for chit chat. And then he said, "Hey...thanks for playing today. I can't remember the last time I heard live music...so, it was great to hear your group today." I thanked him and climbed into my car and cranked on the AC.
I sat there for a moment...waiting for the cool air and then I looked up and noticed several band members, at least twice my age, hoofing it back to their cars. As I asked myself why one band member would drive all the way from SLC for this, the thought hit me: we are all here for the same reason: love. Don't judge how this sounds because it's abso-frickin-lutely true. It's a labor of love. These peeps aren't here to perform for large audiences, or to even be acknowledged. They LOVE the music. And so do I. There's a reason I very rarely miss a rehearsal. Not only a sense of duty and obligation to this group, but because I always leave better then I arrived. Whatever is going on in my hell-uh busy life seems to go on hold for a few hours of "music therapy."
As I drove home, a small part of me wondered, what if we didn't show up to play today? Would it even matter? Well...yeah. Kind of. It mattered to the few peeps that were there not only in the audience, but those who were performing. I then reflected on all the time I spent alone in the "practice studio" I created in my basement, in practice rooms from Interlochen all the way throughout college and basically any small area where I could sit or stand to practice my saxophone. I quickly recalled that I did all of that primarily alone. No one was there to hear me practice...I did it because I love it, and wanted to get better. And it has given back to me. I was lucky enough to pay for a good majority of my undergraduate education on a music scholarship and intend (fingers crossed) to also pay for my graduate program with a similar music scholarship.
That's basically it. Just a little reminder rant about loving your art. Find something you love, do well at it, and carry on. I also vowed to stop the whining about feeling too busy and overwhelmed to participate in things that really matter, regardless of the size of the audience and remember why I do what I do.