Music brings out an extraverted side of me that enjoys being on stage. In fact I have had real stage fright only twice in my life.
The first time wasn’t even on a stage, but in a classroom at Oberlin Conservatory in 1975 when, as an aspiring countertenor, I sang for Russell Oberlin in a masterclass. My knees shook so badly I had to sit down while I sang.
The other time was when I walked out on stage to conduct the first performance at Cornell University of my cantata Silent Thunder. (And believe me, if you had suffered through the final rehearsal that preceded the performance of Silent Thunder you would have been nervous, too.) Luckily, the performance came off OK.
In both cases it was the anxiety of being exposed as a wannabe. In the first case I was a wannabe countertenor, in the second, a wannabe composer.
I may be setting myself up for a third bout of stage fright. On Friday I have agreed to be a judge for the Great Green Mountain Bob Dylan Wannabe Contest. The contestants have nothing to fear from me, since I will be more of a wannabe than they could ever pretend to be. My knowledge of the Bob Dylan oeuvre is, I’m afraid, pretty skin-deep.
I’m going to be a wannabe judge judging wannabes. Scary.