The new thing / by Simmon Li

I've been on the stage before, either as part of a group, or as a soloist performing something, yet today, I was in a mode of performance that was completely alien to me. It was strange, that given all of my training as a musician, I appeared comfortable in front of people, but inside, all the same anxieties returned. It was surreal to be put in that position again, the same position I had to fight hard to get past during my music degree. Part of the issue, I suppose, is that I was demanding to hold people's attention. In the musical context, the presuppositions are different. Of course, there are different expectations, different modes of articulation, and different stakes. Today was the first time I decided to voice an opinion in a formal and exposed way. This wasn't a paper that I wrote and simply handed in. My ideas were exposed and aired to my audience in much the same way my song was exposed and aired to an audience when I started my music degree. It was a profound experience, being put into that mindset of having to manage nerves, your mind racing at high speeds as you negotiate your way through a structure, or lack thereof.

Today, I was judged on the quality of my idea. This seems somehow more personal to me than the judgement of my voice or my musical interpretations. At the very least, I am not shy about saying my singing voice is pleasant (this took a few years to get down, by the way) but I am not comfortable saying the same thing about my ideas. Perhaps this will change with time, maybe it won't. One thing is for sure, the room was welcoming, the people kind, and the reception warm. Regardless of whether they'd heard my shit or not, this experience certainly retrieved memories of my first performance at the university level. It marshalled up in me a recollection of the shaky performances I'd given in the past.

However, I am confident that I can present myself. The issue here is balancing self-doubt and arrogance when it comes to my ideas. The journey continues, and I certainly have to thank my friends for the opportunity to speak non-sense at them.