Mental nerves or coldness of the room?

by Cesco Emmanuel

So I had a solo recital last tuesday at a service to celebrate the life of Angela Cropper. She died of cancer. She founded the Cropper Foundation. You can read more about that organization and her life here.

She lived a life filled with many great accomplishments and she had many terrible family losses throughout her life.

So I was asked by a friend of mine to perform a classical piece, so I chose Sonata in A by Dominico Scarlatti. It’s one of the few pieces that I know fairly well. I would like to say I have mastered it, but mastering anything means playing it perfect, every time and that is not the case here. I have played it great, and I have performed it not so great at times.

I know the song inside out. And I practiced it many times leading up to the show, I ran through tricky parts backstage. But when I took my place on stage, I could feel my hands starting to freeze up. Now it may have been mental nerves, it may have been the coldness of the auditorium (The Daaga Auditorium at the University of the West Indies was like an ice box), even though I wore a suit, my hands were frozen.

So I started the piece much slower that how it’s meant to played, and I gradually increased speed. I made a few unnecessary mistakes, on the inside I was having a meltdown, but on the outside I kept as calm as I could. Eventually I finished the song how it was meant to be finished, so at least I ended on a good, strong note as they say in music.

After the service, people told me how great I played. But I explained to them that my hands were frozen, I left soon after feeling rather disappointed in my playing- again.

I think about it from time to time now and I wonder – was it the coldness that caused my hands to freeze so badly, or was it my nervousness?

This is going to take some time to fix.