I never meant to disappoint Mr. Zorro. Seriously, who could want to disappoint a teacher with a name like that?
He wasn’t as swashbuckling as the guy in black, but I liked Mr. Zorro. I agreed to do the solo contest under his guidance in college like I had done so many others before that–just because it was the thing to do. He chose Scherzo in C Minor by Paul Koepke and edited by H. Voxman.
The cadenza was the absolute worst. Every time I approached that string of notes in the score, my brain would start some sort of arooba noise, like a submarine dive alarm.
(Warning: This video is beyond annoying and way too long. I can’t be held responsible if you listen to the whole thing.)
This internal panic did not, as you might imagine, help my performance.
I think Mr. Zorro said something like: “Well, I thought this piece would bring out your tone but the notes held you back a bit.”
He was being kind. The contest left me numb, and it wasn’t long before I decided my part time job rolling tables, balancing beer bottles on trays, and folding napkins for the hotel banquets took too much of my time to continue with music.
I left the clarinet for a long time. So long, I almost forgot the sting until one day I started noodling on that old piece again with Mr. Zorro’s long ago notes telling me to memorize and use the H key for the trill.
Now, I love that cadenza if you can believe it. I love the roll of it and the way the notes pick up speed going downhill. I love that my fingers now find the notes like they would not when the judges sat trying not to shake their heads before.
For Mr. Zorro. I recorded my efforts last night. I won’t lie and tell you I got it all right. I didn’t. I do much better when I know I’m not recording with a demanding cell phone that insists on turning the screen to record my 1970s ceiling for you instead of the face down black screen I wanted.
It also helps when I’m not fearing the moment the 6-year-old barges in the pseudo-studio to ask a pressing question about whether he can have ice cream or not.
But the cadenza is better, I’m telling Mr. Zorro and you. Much better than it was in college. It’s better, I am sure, because I love it like I never did before.
Which just goes to show me once more.
I never know what joy might come around the corner even in things that used to freeze me in a panic.