Last night the first show of 2018 where I was the musical director happened at Crown Point High School where I played piano for the Stray Dogs Improv team. I've had this illustrious position for almost 4 years now. Originally, I was playing guitar for them because I was not a piano player; however, the need for piano was gradually added as a result of choices the kids would make for their senior showcases. So, I started plinking around on the keys (white keys only and everything in the key of C) trying to fake as if I knew what I was doing during rehearsal and shows. Eventually, I was forced to take the idea of MDing on piano more seriously when I was teaching/directing more musical improv elsewhere. I never really thought of myself as a piano playing MD seriously until now.
I've learned a few more pleasant-sounding chord progressions, got my hand position more comfortable on the piano, and have practiced a lot more since last year so I walked into last night's show a little more confident than in the past. High school parents are quite a bit less discerning about the piano player being there playing for their kids than having a room full of my peers at an improv theare having heard and seen more accomplished players do a lot more on the keys. So, the pressure to perform something incredible wasn't there for me. I did want to show off what I had learned so I kept things rolling as the show went on. The kids did really well with many having performed for the first or second time ever. We pimped a few kids into singing actual songs and I was able to give them super simple foundations to sing over.
But there was this one moment last night that happened that changed things for me. I was supporting a game the kids were playing and noticed that I had to play something somewhat majestic sounding in nature. So, I went for a standard chord progression and as I played it, my fingers slipped into a cool sounding chors that made "sense" in the progression. Now, I can suspect what I thought that chord was but at the moment, I couldn't tell you what it was other than it sounded "pretty good" In the chord progression I knew instantly what had to happen - this has to build and end on a major chord, but I didn't know what the hell the next chords should be so. So, I said "Eff it." - and let go of my analytical brain and trusted the musical improv gawds to make it sound good. I used my instincts to find the next two chords and IT WORKED! I had a huge grin on my face. Not only did the scene go super well and the music supported it so the kids looked like rawkstars, but I also made a personal musical triumph in the journey getting there - I felt like a "real" MD for a few seconds.
I'm going to hold onto this feeling for as long as possible.