When I was in high school, I had a dream of becoming a professional cellist that traveled the world playing in an orchestra. I practiced daily, participated in all the top youth orchestras, attended conservatory summer camps and lived every moment with my cello. My junior year it was decided that I needed switch to a new cello teacher that would prepare me for college auditions. This would make or break me. This teacher was well known for his success rate with getting kids into the top conservatories. But before I could officially make the jump, I first had to audition to see if he would accept me. After a grueling audition I was accepted. This shift changed my whole path. I quickly realized that this teacher got his results by complete dominance and intimating his students. He would scream and insult me. If I didn't play to his satisfaction, he would ask me to leave the lesson. All music HAD to be memorized. To test students, he would not allow music stands in the room. Many times I would cry and get physically sick the morning of the lesson from nerves. Each lesson he would say "you are quite talented but not as talented as the others." It was that year I developed stage fright. My love for music and my cello were never the same. It became a place of dread and fear.
Today, 23 years later I struggle with performing live. My stage fright is alive and well. But today I decided to take back my power. In the end it doesn't matter what that teacher thinks or what conservatory I attended. What matters is how the music makes me or the listener feel. No more standing in my own way with fear or trying to be perfect. Next week I become a cello student again with a new inspiring teacher. I am beginning again, ready to conquer this fear. Ready to create a new ending. Playing small is no longer an option.