Friday, March 18, 2011

Lessons Learned in the "Garden"

This week I have been doing a lot of resting and reflecting on my recent experience with a local production of The Secret Garden with an area high school.  Much of what I have realized is not a new revelation, but rather important reminders of lessons I have previously learned.  Here are some of the highlights.

  • Theater is fun!  Despite the long hours of rehearsal and the tired arms, I truly enjoyed being involved in the creative process of a musical again.  Over the past few years, I have been working exclusively in youth theater with a troupe that doesn't push to do anything that will challenge or better the students.  I had forgotten how fulfilling a meaningful and demanding score can be.  Not only that, but the cast feels a sense of pride with each new accomplishment that pushes them to work harder.  As their energy increases, the excitement is contagious.
  • Making connections....One of the most beneficial aspects of my time in the pit was meeting other musicians who are working in the area.  For this production, I sat directly in front of the violins (odd location, but definitely a new sound experience!) so I got to talk to many of the string players.  After a few days of playing together and getting to know each other, we began to exchange contact information and connect via Facebook and other social media.  What will be the professional benefits?  I don't know.  Perhaps the most valuable part of the process was actually MAKING the contacts.  Since I don't consider myself to be overly social, I often avoid situations that require me interacting with people I don't know personally.  My time in The Garden provided me the opportunity to practice these important skills in a safe, non-threatening atmosphere.
  • Time is of the essence!  Since the musical was not my only responsibility for the past 6 weeks, my time management skills were of paramount importance.  I found myself looking for 15-minute segments throughout the day that could be used effectively to make sure that everything got done.  Most surprisingly for me, I departed from using a traditional paper calendar and transferred my organization to Google calendar.  Going electronic meant that I could access my schedule from my smart phone without having to manage another book.  Task lists were permanent fixtures of this adventure; honestly, I have probably accomplished more in this incredibly busy season than any other time of the year.  Now I'm just considering how to transfer the productivity into the times that are not so crazy.
  • Searching for down time.  Over an extended run, my body and mind were put to the test.  Fortunately, I planned periods of rest in my day and protected them from any interference.  I also examined my daily routine to find what tasks were essential and which were not;  non-essential tasks were put on hold for a while (including blogging).  I believe that since I did find time to rest daily I have avoided major health issues now that the show is over;  I also credit my new daily vitamin regimen.  (Gotta love gummy vitamins.....no more trying to swallow huge pills for me!)
So there you have it -- a look into my mind over the past few days.  Now it's time to move on to other exciting projects, including planning the music for my niece's wedding and rehearsing for an upcoming recital in Texas.