Just before the battle, mother

This is not a scientific post. Tomorrow I’m going to play piano at a memorial service for the husband of a coworker of my cellist. Wish me luck. I hate playing in public although I love playing chamber music with friends. The fact that one of the pieces I’m going to play is something I wrote is no consolation, since last week my sister in law, an accomplished composer who’s had some of her stuff performed in Carnegie hall, told me that playing something you wrote is no guarantee that you won’t screw up. Thanks a lot.

The distaste for performing in public goes back to grade school when I first started taking lessons. We had to play from memory when the teacher would parade all his pupils at a concert. I never actually screwed up, but was always afraid that I’d get in an endless loop while playing and be unable to get out. I’ve seen this happen once, and even watching it was excruciatingly painful.   In fact that’s how I found that my mother was not omniscient.  Every winter I was told “Close your galoshes and button up or you’ll get sick”. So two weeks before each recital I’d run around with open galoshes and a wide open jacket in the hopes that I’d get sick and miss the recital but I never did.

So wish me luck.  The following fits my current mood

Just before the battle, mother,
I am thinking most of you,
While upon the field we’re watching
With the enemy in view.
Comrades brave are ’round me lying,
Filled with thoughts of home and God
For well they know that on the morrow,
Some will sleep beneath the sod.

Popular song during the American Civil War

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