I recently played for a performance at a church and I was reminded how much I can be inspired by all kinds of musicians. At the beginning of their rehearsal, the church choir all prayed together. But they didn’t pray for success or productivity; they prayed that their music would touch the lives of their congregation and help in their worship.
I think we can sometimes get so bogged down with internalized metrics that we lose sight of what is really important. Any rubric for grading a jury or a recital includes certain things: technique, intonation, musicality, ensemble, etc. No classical music training focuses on creating an impact on the listener. And this is absolutely perpetuated by the world of competitions, auditions, and recordings that we live in.
I’m not saying these things are bad; they can be very useful in driving musicians to achieve their goals. But they cannot be the last word on what is “good” in the world of music. I can (attempt to) play the right notes, the right rhythms, in tune, and with a large dynamic range but why? I think I do these things in order to create an experience for myself and anyone who happens to be listening to me.
So the next time I feel like praying for technical and tonal accuracy, I might instead pray that I reach someone.