We've all faced some setbacks and disappointments in life, from really major issues down to the tiniest of problems. I know I certainly have had too many to count and even some that are probably forgotten. Fortunately (or not), I'm not here to tell you how to manage or deal with them - I believe it has to be a journey of self-discovery and learning. But I will add this: while some situations can be serious or life-changing, I do feel it's the way we react and respond to it that will ultimately affect our mood and psyche. After all, setbacks and disappointments happen becaus e of our expectations and how they're not met.
If you can, do watch this video! It may seem pretty long, but the pianist absolutely kills it even though things went awry for her recital.
I remember when I held my concert upon returning from Peabody, I had quite a number of difficulties, one of which was definitely the heights of the drums! As a percussionist, we are (for the most part) at the mercy of the hardware/instruments we are given to use. I was preparing and playing James Wood's Rogosanti, and that piece requires a multitude of instruments along with a massive setup, and I was very used to the drum heights when I performed it at Peabody. In YST, the bongo stand, at its lowest height, was just barely comfortable and I had to tip-toe to play certain parts. Of course, I could have chosen a different piece, but Rogosanti is very dear to my heart and besides, it is such an amazing piece that I just had to premiere it in Singapore.
Another Rogosanti setback was the table for the glockenspiel and micro-tone glockenspiel - there is literally no Home Depot in Singapore for me to buy some legs and a table top to build it myself, but I was extremely fortunate to have had the help from a very trusty friend and staff of YST, Mike Tan. He built the table and if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't have been able to perform Rogosanti, and so I owe that performance to him! (Thank you so much Mike!)
Of course, non-performance setbacks do occur! Like I mentioned in my New Year's post, I had 2 projects being cancelled or postponed and it was a huge blow to my future plans. A few years ago, I applied for scholarships and grants for future study plans but was rejected. That setback made us think about our goals and future, and we certainly had to make changes accordingly. And sometimes, what we don't realise is that when one door closes, others open. Bad example, but let's use me. I really wanted to continue playing the flute when I was 13, but the band conductor needed keyboard players (since I have some piano background) and so I was "thrown" into the percussion section. It was upsetting, and I didn't know if I would enjoy being in the percussion section. Fast forward to today... what a twist of fate and turn of events!
Managing expectations is hard. When I take care of my son, I face it all the time. You'll never know what to expect from kids because they can be so loving and then frustrate the hell out of you! Take self-feeding as an example. To us, it's already second-nature. To toddlers, it's actually a huge endeavour! There's bound to be mess and spills (who knows how many years they actually take) and by failing to lower our expectations, we're setting ourselves up for frustration and anger. I guess this also me trying to remind myself to slow things down when it comes to life..
In all, I learnt something from Eliane Rodrigues during her turmoil and unfortunate setback - she took it in her stride, did not fuss about it and had fun with it as well! Of course, not every setback is fun and jovial, especially when it's a life-changing ordeal, but I'm thinking perhaps a little light-heartedness goes a long way. What have been some setbacks you've had? Do write your experiences in the comments below and hopefully we'll be able to handle future setbacks in a more positive manner. Stay safe, be well, and thanks again for reading!