Saturday, January 8, 2011

Defeating El Guapo

As I've mentioned a few dozen times (or more), I play in an awesome band called Under Shelter. (You know you want to hire us for your next party -- we really are quite good!) I've been playing with them for not quite a year now and for the most part I manage to play our gigs without breaking into a cold sweat. Sometimes I even manage to have a good time.

Lately Rich has been bugging me to take a solo every now and again. This makes me want to throw up. Not because I don't like playing -- I really, really do. But honestly, every time I think about playing any kind of improvisational thing, my stomach clenches, my head swims and my heart races. And what's worse is that despite the compliments that I have received over my years of playing (and when I think about it, people have been very generous with compliments over the years), every single negative thing that has ever been said about my playing leaps to my mind and drowns out every other voice.

I'll hear the voice of the director at the high school regional choir who wouldn't let either of the student accompanists play the best song in the program because we played "too straight."

Or the voice of the visiting professor in college, days before my senior recital telling me at a master class that I was an emotionless player.

Or the voice of a pastor telling me as an adult that I wasn't welcome to play in his church ever again.

These have not been the largest number of voices by any stretch of the imagination. But they've come in at precisely the wrong moments and have spoken to the one area in music that has always felt like my biggest strength. If they had been criticisms of my technical proficiency, I couldn't disagree and probably wouldn't have cared as much. I'm not a chops kind of player. But they spoke to my soul, where music lives. So they go much, much deeper and have caused me to question all comments to the contrary.

But ultimately (lest this turn into a depressing whine-fest), I have to figure out how to get past these negative voices, these "El Guapos" if you prefer. What is it that will get me past this place where I sit here and worry and just DO something?

And ultimately, it comes down to trust. I need to trust the people who have my best interest at heart. Trust that my husband really means it when he says I'm beautiful. Trust that my best friends aren't saying one thing to my face and then something else behind my back. Trust that even when I feel alone, God has told me that He'll never leave me or forsake me. I ask you to help keep me accountable for that trust.

What is your "El Guapo"? How have you conquered negativity in your own life?

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