Before this blog goes any further, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the sensational Katie Jordan for her remarkable editorial prowess. Without her discerning eye, this blog would be, well, a mess. (Full disclosure: she’s also my fiancée.) Now, on to our regularly-scheduled blog post…
“You will make mistakes. There’s just no substitute for experience.” When I won my job, this was the advice my mentor and friend Daniel Matsukawa offered. What’s stuck with me the most about it is its implied self-forgiveness.
Everyone makes mistakes. Intellectually, it’s easy to understand—obvious, even. In practice, it’s tough to accept. What helped me in this regard was a simple idea: If I’ve worked as hard as I can and I still don’t play as well as I would like, then I’ve ultimately done nothing wrong.
My thinking went like this: I showed up at the audition. I played my best and the committee decided to hire me. Preparing all these operas, I worked as hard as I was physically capable, and if there were times when I still fell short, well, there was nothing more I could have done.
Of course, this doesn’t mean I don’t get frustrated when I make mistakes. I do. But we have to get past sub-par performances and focus on long-term musical development. This development doesn’t happen in a linear way. I’ve grown a great deal over the last two and a half seasons, but that doesn’t mean that each of my 300 or so performances at the Met have each gotten progressively better. Continual improvement is a messy, inconsistent process. It requires constant work, for both physical and mental well-being.
That's the most important part of this, and I think it bears repeating. Letting yourself off the hook is contingent on working very, very hard. There’s simply no substitute for doing everything in your power to make tonight go well. If it doesn’t? Let go of it and do better next time.