Saturday I get to play in front of a bunch of strangers. Uh oh. I didn't really anticipate checking off the "play in front of people" goal from the list so early, nor in this way, but it's probably good practice. The whole "wait until I'm amazing and blow everyone's mind" level I was going to try and achieve first is likely a looooong way off.
It's a short piece I'm doing, no more than a minute long, and I can play it in my sleep. That's not to say I've mastered it, but I've practiced extensively and know all of it's subtleties and texture by heart. Despite that, I'm still anticipating disaster. Every so often when I'm playing it in front of someone, I start thinking about what I'm doing instead of just doing, and that's when things go south. I do best when I can sort of unfocus my mind and take it all in as a whole, with all the nuances and pieces working quietly and smoothly in the background, out of sight and out of mind, like when you're drawing still-life and you unfocus your vision to zone in on the primitive shapes that make up your subject. My brain isn't being overwhelmed by counting beats and remembering legatos and that I need to alternate between mezzo piano and mezzo forte, etc. My body just knows what to do, and does it.
Here's to hoping I don't have - as my friend Ashby calls them - a "Classic Nick" moment where I'm involved in a ridiculously extensive and convoluted event that causes me extreme levels of embarrassment. Thankfully I feel like I've always been pretty good at keeping a song going even when I screw up, thanks to my first guitar teacher drilling the importance of that skill into my head so many years ago. It's possible I'm not actually good at it and just think I am, but what I don't know won't kill me.