When I started learning to play the sax at the age of 60, I never wanted to perform. I just wanted to play for me. Then a couple of years ago someone asked me to join a new band and I went to three rehearsals and loved it, but then I realised that if I continued I'd be driving home from Sheffield over the moors in all weathers after late night gigs, and I cried off. I would love to play with another musician in private though. I have just never found that person.
Mel, my sax teacher, is getting married in July and she's asked some of her students to play at her reception - solos. I am one of those students. I love Mel, so I've said yes, but I'm petrified.
I have never played in public before. I told her the tune I'd like to play at my lesson yesterday and set about playing it. I've been practising it all week and playing it perfectly at home, but in her music room - with her standing behind me so I could pretend she wasn't there - I bungled it because of nerves: I so wanted her to be pleased.
She said that it's much harder playing for just one person than it is for a crowd, and that I shouldn't worry. Hmm. She's full of encouraging baloney.
I always play better in the morning than the evening, but the open mic set at the reception (during which I'll be playing) starts at 5 p.m. when my intellectual capabilities are at the brink of their inexorable slide into the daily abyss. That means I'll need a rest in the afternoon, then a coffee to wake me up, and just before I go on a glass of wine to relax me. I'm going to be seriously self-medicated. If I feel on the day that it's something I just can't do, she says that of course she understands. Sean - the guy who has his lesson after me - feels as nervous as me. So we're going to take our saxes along and see how we feel on the day.
I'd like to do Mel proud. She's been a fantastic teacher. She is encouraging and understanding and has no agenda of her own. She sees herself as an enabler - to get us to enjoy playing the sax in the way we want to do, playing the music we like. And I do. Kudos to Mel!
Wish me luck, you guys. I'll let you know what happens.