We start our Video Blog series with this little experiment. Once you collect a whole week of continuos rehearsal ans study into 40 seconds, my summary would look like this:

But then it raises the question: when do we know that our efforts are being completed? When is a good moment to say “I got this”? When do I stop my preparation mode and start my interpretation one?

It seems to me that the higher one’s aspirations are, the satisfaction with a performance desapears the faster. I’m not saying that I feel dissapointed with that particular performance, but once time offers perspective on what I did and accomplished, the quality of my results tends to loose luster.

Two months agoan orchestra invited me to conduct a 4-piece program and I didn’t know any of the pieces. Besides the wonderful feeling of knowing oneself useful to an organization and the challenge that means to learn music for the first time, I decided to use this opportunity as a test-run of today’s main question. I just wanted to know when along the preparation I was going to feel ready. So, every moment that I dedicated to prepare for this concert,  be it reading the score, transcribing and scanning the string parts with bowings, negotiating the contract, organizing the travel arrangements, etc…, I dutifully logged my time in a spreadsheet. Every minute of the 4 rehearsals was accounted for. Here are the statistics for that concert:

Length of the music performance as such: 84 minutes
Time spent in preparations: 185 hours (a little over eleven thousand minutes)
Ratio of preparation/performance: Absurd! The concert constitutes only a 1.5% of my job in terms of time, even though it will be the only reference the listeners will take home about us performers, but that will be the subject of a future post.

When along those minutes of preparation did I feel absolutely ready? the short answer: I never did. I was in top of things, I knew what to ask from the players and soloists, I was absolutely sure of how to be respectful with the composer while adding imagination to our interpretation. But every minute of rehearsal only opened several new questions with multitude of implications spanning from them.

Not to say that the picture is dark Anne depressing now, quite the opposite. It seems now that my profession and Carl Satan’s vision of science share similarities. This wonderful man of study considered his professsion as “the masterful handling of uncertainties, not of answers”.

How much work is good enough?

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