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New York, New York


A New York harpist trying to figure things out - and the mishaps and adventures that inevitably ensue.

Some Thoughts On Preparing A Concerto, Or: I Can't Play Solo, What Are These People Thinking?

Kathryn Sloat

A couple of months ago I got an email from someone I had never met - a director of a youth orchestra in Brooklyn - asking if I would want to play the Debussy Danses with them. Obviously I said yes. What are you, crazy? Of course I want to play this cool concerto with your advanced string ensemble. Luckily I had played it before, so pulling it out and re-memorizing the thing wasn't a huge deal. 

Lately I've been wondering if I wasn't crazy for agreeing to play it. Since performing my last degree recital and leaving school, I haven't played solo music very much. Most of my time now is taken up by learning music for orchestra gigs and musicals, maybe some chamber music - but I haven't performed as a soloist in almost a year. I've been feeling like I'm losing my solo chops, but maybe that's just in my head. I'm not sure. I've never thought of myself as much of a soloist anyway. I was never one of those kids who won a whole bunch of competitions in school. I've entered lots of concerto competitions and auditions and never won anything, so eventually I just resigned myself to the fact that I would never be an exceptional soloist, and decided to stick to the things I am good at. 

I didn't worry too much about this concerto performance until a few days ago. And then I freaked. Why did they ask me to do this? Didn't anyone warn them that I had never won a competition, never played a concerto with an orchestra before? Clearly this was all a big mistake, I would screw up at the rehearsal and they would ask me not to come back. Nerves sometimes make me crabby, so I haven't been a very fun person to be around lately. 

The first rehearsal was today. It was fine. I didn't play fantastically well, but I didn't crash and burn and I didn't die. I know what I need to work on for next weekend's performance, which I'm sure will be fine also. 


This post should probably end with some kind of inspiring message about believing in yourself and not giving up on your dreams, but I'm tired and I don't feel like a happy rainbow person just now. All I know is that I miss learning/performing solos and I want to keep doing it, so I will. I need to stop letting my lack of trophies talk me out of it.