This is probably the most fundamental question to the amateur: why practice, why play at all?
There are people like myself who were once very decent players, but who have stopped for years and now face a steep uphill battle to regain what we once were able to do. People ask me if I play in groups and/or if I have any concerts coming up. Well, no I don't. So then, why practice? Why go through the frustration and difficult task of re-acquiring the skills of the oboe when what I hear coming out of my instrument is less than unsatisfactory?
The word "amateur" comes from Italian and means someone who loves. Unfortunately, in English and French, it is often associated with someone who is not really serious, “unprofessional”. This is wrong, the word "amateur" should only be applied when one is really serious about something: one loves the task and therefore no pains are too great.This is how I feel about performance. This is why I practice: I cannot imagine stopping.
But, owing to the likes of Albrecht Mayer, Cynthia Steljes, Christoph Hartmann, John Abberger, Bart Schneeman and so many others, why bother trying? Surely I cannot even begin to aim for what they are currently doing so well, so who am I to pretend to be an oboist in the face of such mastery? I have no answer to that. I play because that’s what I do, end of story.
Maybe I will play again with a group, maybe not. Maybe I will play on stage again, maybe not. Maybe I will make a You-Tube video only to be ridiculed and know that the critics are right..... but maybe something unexpected, and sorely wanted, will occur.
This is why we practice.
May the year 2011 bring us all lots of opportunities to practice and play for for well receiving audiences; may Providence grant us the purpose and nurture us on our way!