Those Little Things

A high-level administrator of a reputable orchestra recently paid me what I — and I imagine most of my colleagues would have — perceived as a backhanded compliment mere moments after walking offstage: “You played beautifully; all those little things don’t matter,” she cooed, miming a violinist’s left hand in action. “The important moments — they were beautiful.” Non-musicians might struggle to empathize with or even identify the offending portion of that remark. To those of us in the performing arts, however, “those little things” — the pianist’s right-hand cramp, rendering that night’s passagework ever-so-slightly clumsier than usual; the dancer’s quivering ankle; the poet’s fleeting memory

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