Human error

In case anybody was desperately waiting for the next instalment, apologies for a rather prolonged absence. Sometimes life happens at a pace where there is little chance to get everything done, let alone process the passing of time. Instead one must wait for moments such as this one to reflect, absorb and learn. In this instance, the moment is a post-performance adrenaline come-down at midnight in my empty apartment with a chocolate bar and a few Gerberas to brighten up the scene. The prospect of Sunday morning Eucharist looms, although is not quite enough to persuade my senses to sleep. So let's see what I can write...

The not-quite-end-of-year recital came and went - and with it a sinus infection, a large pile of new (and vaguely urgent) repertoire to learn and an unanticipated stint of understudying. In the space of two weeks I found myself performing music I had been studying for ten months, ten weeks and ten days - each performance bringing its own kind of pressure. After a certain amount of beating myself up over ugly top Cs, mumbled words or entries missed it slowly began to dawn on me that I must accept I am not above, below or separated from the phenomenon of human error. None of us are.

So much of the work we do in our training as singers is towards minimising these errors. After ten months studying King Harald's Saga and eight performances under my belt, I feel it is a reliable work in my repertoire, but nonetheless every performance brings with it the same fears about forgetting my words or accidentally skipping a movement. And although both these things are yet to happen (please, fate, be kind!), there is that very real risk every time I perform the work. Is this not the joy of live performance?

At the other end of the spectrum, I have recently had to go on for two shows as a cover after ten days with the score. It was definitely one of those situations where everything could potentially pass problem free, but there was also a roomy margin for human error. Each phrase brought with it a small adrenaline-rush, each page-turn was filled with apprehension. Mistakes were made. But as quickly as they happened the music continued and it was time to sing the next bar better. I soon realised that whilst there is time to dwell on mistakes after the performance - there is never time on stage.

For anybody else who has found themselves in this situation - how do we address these errors after the curtain has come down? It is important to work out what went wrong, why it happened and how it can be prevented from occurring again. But here the analysis must stop.

Put it down to a lapse in concentration, be glad that you were singing not driving the car, accept the wonder of your humanity - and move on.