I think I've lost all faith in my piano playing ability now. A few hours ago I performed the piano at my school Christmas concert. I was going to play one of my Grade 7 pieces, the Esquisse - it was my favourite out of the three and it was one that I always felt most confident in. I got 27/30 for it in my exam, the rehearsal during the day went perfectly...
But I completely, utterly, messed it up on the night. In front of about 200 people, including friends, parents, teachers and music teachers. I started off fine, a little nervous - then suddenly I lost my place on the keyboard, I hit the wrong note, I lost my place on the page, my heart was pumping out of control, my mind was in blind panic... I played another wrong jarring chord, and there was no prospect of continuing. I stopped. Then I looked at the audience, and mumbled "I'm sorry, I have to start again", and started again. I managed to finish it this time, although I know I played about three wrong notes and there was a huge hesitant bit before a note so people probably thought I made a mistake again. I just wanted it over and done with, so there was absolutely zero in terms of dynamics, expression etc, which was meant to be the selling point of the piece. I could almost sense what the audience must have been feeling - "Gosh, this girl is rubbish" "Would she ever manage to finish?" "This is painfully embarrassing to watch" "Look, she made another mistake" etc etc. They probably all sighed in relief when I managed to finish. I just wanted the ground to swallow me up. I felt marginally better when the deputy head (who was commentating) turned it into a joke and the audience laughed, but I still felt about a millimetre tall. I felt like laughing because it was so awful. I couldn't bear to look at the faces of my music teachers & friends; they all looked surprised & disappointed.
Now, I know that once I get over the initial humiliation, people will forget about it in the short term. But I feel like someone's just taken a great chunk out of my confidence. I'm terrified that the next time I sit down to perform at a piano, the memory of this awful performance would come back and throw me off, so that I would develop some kind of phobia against performing for ever. I feel as though I can't call myself a competent pianist anymore, because I wasn't even able to keep on playing despite the mistakes like any professional would do, but abruptly stopped and started again like a complete amateur. I don't think anyone will ask me to play again, wary that I might make a huge blunder like this, so that this nightmare would be the last time I perform publically.
And I feel so guilty. Guilty that if I had practiced more I could have played it better, and not messed up the concert for my teachers. My mum was sympathetic when I talked to her, but she was also sharp and told me that I really should have practiced more. I felt a little bitter about that, but it was the truth and it hurt. I had been under so much pressure from schoolwork, other problems and preoccupations these last few weeks, that I don't think I practiced nearly as well as I could've done. Perhaps I was too cocky, arrogant, complacent; because I managed to do well on previous concerts I will be able to do this one well too without the practice.
To cap it all, I have to perform again on Monday for the annual Old People's Christmas Party. I guess I feel more confident with the pieces I'm playing then, but I am absolutely dreading it. I don't think I can ever play in public anymore.