03 Jun Recovering Well
J.S. Bach wrote six multi-movement suites for unaccompanied violin. These works are considered to be the pinnacle of the literature and a technical, musical and even emotional Mt. Everest for the player. Few can even approach these pieces. They are masterworks, Bach at his best, and any one suite performed alone is an accomplishment. I recently heard a violinist perform all six. Not on a recording. Live. In a single night. Almost three hours of virtuosity and tens of thousands of notes. It was absolutely sublime, practically a miracle.
In the sixth suite, over two hours in the concert, the violinist started playing the Prelude to this suite. It is an exacting work requiring multiple violin techniques all played at a very fast tempo. As a classical guitarist, I know this piece well having studied it for years and attempting to play it. My wife, also a musician, knows this piece having suffered through my practice. And something happened on this evening. So subtle as to be practically imperceptible. A few beats, maybe a few measures, got dropped. My wife glanced at me for a moment knowing something was different. But this artist never stopped playing, for even a millisecond, and masterfully connected sections of music together in such a way that it sounded deliberate, not like a mistake at all. And except for the few trained ears in the room, no one knew that anything other than Mr. Bach’s intent had transpired.
She recovered well. Her composure never faltered. There was no sign of exasperation anywhere on her face. A consummate professional. She knew both her music and her instrument, as well as herself, so completely that when the inevitable mistake came she knew how to recover and keep going. And at the end of the evening, as the audience was on its feet cheering and clapping, the overall accomplishment of the evening was celebrated.
How do we recover? Full of remorse and self-loathing so as to just stop when the inevitable mistake occurs? Our countenance drops and we drop out. Quit. Or do we play through the mistake? Our promise is not to ever make a mistake, but to recover well (Proverbs 24:16). To finish strong (Hebrews 12:1-2; 2Timothy 4:7-8). And the opus of our life will be celebrated as we enter into His Presence and hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” (Matthew 25:21).