What I really wanted to do for you today was record Mozart’s Piano Sonata #12 in F Major, K332, in its entirety.

That’s my next big milestone/action item/deliverable/whatever with this piece — to be able to play all three movements in a row without, like, starting any of them over.

Here’s how it started:

You can tell, even if you don’t watch the whole thing, that my command of the piece has improved considerably. The reoccurring problem from last month is now solved, every single time I play it. There’s still a bit of wobble right at the end of the exposition, both the first time and during the repeat, but I’m aware of it and am actively working to improve it. (A “known unknown,” as it were.)

Then, at 6:30, I make this gesture.

It’s genuine, but it’s also showy. I think I am genuinely showing off, really — I’m so delighted by how the performance has gone so far that I decide to spontaneously demonstrate my delight.

It breaks the performance. The tiny moment in which I make it about me instead of about the music takes me out of the music, and you can watch me fumble and struggle and resituate (resuscitate?) my focus.

And then I play to the end, and it’s fine.

I’ve written about focus vs. feelings before, and this is another variation on the theme. The spontaneous gesture with unknown results vs. the specific gesture with known results.

Except — I don’t really think it’s that, because when I play the Chopin I focus on making new choices every performance. My interpretation is spontaneous, if you want to call it that, but it’s also considered. Taking a story you’ve learned by heart and finding a way of telling it that will capture both the listener and the specific moment. (Like Lev Grossman’s magic students, I perform the Chopin differently when it’s raining — and very differently when it’s late enough that my nocturne can both enhance and respond to the night that is waiting for the audience, which really still only consists of me and L and sometimes my parents and sometimes you.)

With the Mozart, well — I let myself get in the way. I let my spontaneous emotion-showing become more important than the music. This sonata is not about Watching Nicole Show Off, after all.

That brings me to freelancing — and when I realized it could bring me to freelancing I knew that was what I had to write about this week.

I teach a lot of freelancing classes (I’m about to add a few more to my upcoming roster, so watch this space for announcements), and I often see students wanting to make their freelance work about themselves rather than the client or the reader.

Sometimes it’s in an obvious way, like wanting to pitch a personal story that has emotional resonance to them but hasn’t yet been shaped into a narrative that is designed to connect with and/or benefit someone else.

Sometimes it’s in a less-obvious way, like putting show-offy turns of phrase into an article about the ten best business credit cards.

When you’re writing for a personal finance website, you want your article to read like the other articles on that site, showcase the site’s features, and make readers glad that they turned to that particular site to get trustworthy, useful information about personal finance (and, if you write a really good article, convince the reader to do something that improves their own financial prospects). The article cannot be about you, nor can it be about your writing skills — if it turns into a showcase of your ability to turn phrases and coin puns (pun intended), it won’t work.

And when you’re playing Mozart, you want your performance to showcase Mozart’s music, not your ability to perform Mozart or your personal experience as you perform.

Which is what I learned this week. ❤️

Now let’s look at where I got published:

Where I got published this week


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