It was many years ago, a night like so many others.
I was on stage playing a concert with a local symphony orchestra being led by a guest conductor.
I was dressed in my usual orchestra concert attire, a black tuxedo, complete with black cummerbund and bow tie (à la James Bond, I like to think). The strange thing about this time was that I was seated behind a drum set.
I say strange because when you study to be a drummer, you don’t necessarily see yourself wearing a tuxedo while you play. You also don’t imagine yourself playing behind a 60-piece orchestra at the back of a large concert hall filled with people.
I was playing the same drum set that I had played many times while dressed in jeans and t-shirt, the same set that I would “rock out on” in jam sessions with friends.
But this night was different. This night I was playing in an orchestral pops concert and it was the first time I was hired not as a percussionist but as the “drummer” for such a thing.
I had done my practicing, been to rehearsals, but I was nervous. There’s just something different about show time. On top of that, it was a big program. But I have to tell you that I don’t remember one single tune I played that night.
I remember one moment only, and how it felt. The moment I remember was near the end of the night, in the last tune. It was a fast up-tempo number and I was busily keeping time when the conductor looked up from his score and looked me straight in the eye. Then with a broad smile, he raised his hand and gave me a big thumbs-up.
I am going to guess that that particular moment was about 20 years ago now. Yet I remember it as if it were yesterday. I remember how great it felt, how happy I was.
I’m not sure if the conductor meant to make me feel as good as he did, but in that one moment, he validated my hard work, my years of practice, my musicianship and how I played that night.
And the thing is, he didn’t have to do it. There’s no rule about that. I have played many concerts where it seems the conductors don’t even know you’re there. So for one to make an effort, that really stood out for me, and his timing was right on.
That was a great moment! That’s the thing about special moments. They can have a profound impact on people.