There have been countless hours when I sit with my saxophone in my hands, as unsure fingers grasp each key in the tiresome effort to learn a new concert piece. At those times, all I do is stare despairingly at the long road ahead and - practice, practice, practice. The slow progression to a finished piece seems endless, and my only wish is that I could just play as naturally as I breathe. I wish the piece would just flow from my arms, to my hands, to my fingers, and then to the pearls on my keys, producing a fine sweet sound of pleasurable notes. But if I had a wish, a real wish, it would be that I could play without having to practice - that the notes would just seep into my head without me ever having to learn them. As the days pass, I get frustrated when my brain fails to communicate with my fingers. I curse the tedious exercises that my instructor puts me through. Wishing aside, however, determination is the word that motivates me, allows me to take action, and excites me when I think of what I can accomplish. It's what keeps me from abandoning my goal - learning the piece no matter what.
Months later, when the first time the notes are no longer black marks on paper but a finished and completed piece, I never regret the time that I put into learning it. Then, I remember performing the piece for the first time. Backstage - doing last minute preparations, making sure of the proper chord changes, and trying to forget about the tension, all happening under the dim glow of stage lights. As the curtains vanish, the dead silence of the audience is somewhat eerie, barely seeing the myriad faces through a deep hollow darkness below the constantly radiating lights. As the first note is struck, all I could feel was relief, and for that moment, the song not only stems from the repeated technical strokes controlled by my brain, but from my body where it gains life as I put it to sound. The choppy and uneven measures become as smooth as porcelain as I play in front of my peers and mentors.