I tend to swing from one extreme to the other when I think about my own playing. It may not seem to be anything special but I rarely feel over prepared for a concert, unless it’s not a particularly difficult program. Is this normal?? I tend to think so, but everyone does their work in solitude, and it’s not something you discuss with others, especially your own weaknesses, perceived or real.
The only thing I try to do is practice regularly, and optimally everyday. This I’ve done since I was young and it has provided me, I believe with continued growth. I can’t speak for others, as I tend to want to work on what I can’t do, or with what I have trouble with. I do try to make it interesting, but sometimes it’s just hard work. I would say these days it’s quality over quantity, but I find playing more fun than I did when I was younger. I like to think it’s because I’ve improved.
I do encourage students that regular work is the most important thing, but life has a way with interrupting that with chores, illness, or a family crisis. In short you learn over time and that experience will help in the long run. Unfortunately I often feel that I could of done more. I suppose others may of felt the same. You don’t always get the time you need or want for a particular project, or the task is just so big you are quite ready.
I performed a concert a few years ago that had everything but the kitchen sink thrown at me, and then my Dad passed away two days before the big event. I was in a daze for close to a week afterwards, and honestly I was just lucky to get through the whole thing. I can’t say I was at my best but all things considered, it was the best I could do. I still regret that I wasn’t better prepared, but how do you get better prepared for the loss of a loved one??
Other times I feel that I really have my mojo on, and you think that others should be noticing something fantastic, and it’s just the same old you to them. Oh well, it’s all just in my head. I still go on, practice and work some more, and another time they think it’s incredible, and you think “what did I do?”. I’m beginning to think playing is as much a head game as it is physical. I just want to do the best I can, so I best get upstairs and get practicing!