Monday, June 3, 2013

On glory

For most of us who perform, we really enjoy having audiences appreciate what we do.  Whether it’s a standing ovation at the end of a show or a handshake from a fan, it makes us feel really good to give that much joy.

But what happens if you crave that sort of response - when your objective isn’t inspiration but glory?

Glory and adoration are external motivators, and as such, out of your control.  You might like how it feels to receive them but can be affected when they aren’t there.  Imagine playing at a festival off in the corner with not a lot of people sticking around to watch you, or a corporate event where people are socializing and drinking and you’re mostly just background noise.  It doesn’t make anyone a bad person for not being into your set; it’s often the nature of the venue and the presenter’s wishes that affect things.  You might also perform for an audience that doesn’t “get it” but politely claps in the right spots.  So where’s the glory and adoration?  If you count on those to feel like you did a good job or to determine your self-worth, those kinds of gigs are going to hack away at you.

If your motivation is more internal, then it won’t matter what the response is.  If you’re playing because you love how taiko makes you feel, or because it gives you a way to express yourself, then you don’t even need an audience.  If you enjoy the energy your group generates, if you find satisfaction in a skillful strike, if you love being tired after a show, then you don’t give those external factors power over what you feel.  Granted, who doesn’t love a happy audience or excited fans, right?  But in this way, there’s no sense of loss when they’re not there – it’s a bonus!

It’s easy to say that the audience won’t affect your personal performance, but sometimes that can be a really hard test.  Playing on stage for Taiko Jam at the NATC is one way to see how calm you can be.  Having a couple of drunks dancing in front of you at a festival can test your concentration.  Sometimes you expect one thing and get another, and that discrepancy can affect you quite a bit.

This isn’t to say you shouldn’t play for the audience, only that you shouldn’t use your expectation of their reaction to be a motivating force.  Let your joy come from within and people will notice.  Expect it from your audience and at times you will regret it.

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