Paul Vasile is a interim/transitional church musician, consultant, and composer based in New York City. He has been a Music that Makes Community presenter since 2011 and now serves as MMC's Executive Director.
My second year of graduate school, I registered for an elective in continuo playing (see above for examples of figured bass, i.e. Baroque chord symbols). It seemed like a great way to round out my skills as a church musician and it offered the opportunity to play different repertoire than I usually encountered as a pianist. I went to the first class with a bit of nervous anticipation, which was kicked up a notch when the professor began with an exercise to assess our skill level. Each student was given an eight-measure melody with figured bass to sightread in front of everyone.
I registered for the class to stretch myself, to gain new experiences, and to be able to perform Baroque music with more authenticity. But, approaching this moment of assessment, all I felt was fear: fear of being scrutinized, judged, inadequate. When an exceptionally gifted keyboardist played shortly before me, I was undone.
Intimidated and insecure, I stumbled through my excerpt, sat back down, and decided the class was too difficult. I went to the Registrar’s office the next day and signed up for a choral literature class instead, embarrassed that I had even tried in the first place.
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