Or maybe I just have a bad attitude.
So here's the deal. This year I signed back on as a piano accompanist for a community children's chorus that I used to play for until my youngest was born five years ago. The organization is a large one, with five different choirs for which singers have to audition and to which they are assigned based on age and skill level. Both my older two children have sung for this group in the past, and until the demands on my time grew to the point that I needed to cut something out, I enjoyed the work. So now I'm back, looking forward to the opportunity to make greater use of my musical training while earning a little extra money at the same time.
So what's the problem? It seems the organization has become even more bureaucratic than I remember it. When I was on staff before, I don't recall there ever being any sort of formal performance review (although certainly if someone wasn't meeting expectations it would have been addressed). But now all musical staff are subject to a yearly evaluation. It's not that I object to that--in fact, I think it's a good thing--but as part of the evaluation process, I am required to submit in writing three professional goals for the year, against which I assume I will be measured at the end of the year. I am at a loss for what is expected here. My goals as an accompanist are to learn my music and play it well, show up on time for rehearsals and assist the conductor in whatever way I can, and not fall down while walking on stage for a performance. But somehow I don't think that's what they are looking for here. To me, those things sound like the behaviors required to keep my job, not goals to strive for. So what, musically, can I work toward that is above and beyond my required duties? Well, there are things, I'm sure. I have my piano students play scales, but the dirty truth is that I don't play them much myself. And I'm sure I would be a better pianist if I did. So maybe I could make a goal of reincorporating scales into my normal practice routine. There's just one problem with that: I DON'T HAVE A NORMAL PRACTICE ROUTINE! AND I DON'T HAVE TIME FOR SCALES! I can easily see myself at the end of the year, sitting down with the artistic director for my performance review only to have her mark a big fat F in my personnel file for failing to achieve this or any of the other lofty-sounding goals I might dream up.
I am just not at a time in my life when I have much desire or wherewithal to expand my personal and professional horizons. My priorities right now are to keep my family clothed and fed, to keep the house relatively inhabitable, to manage the paper flow, to teach my kids their lessons and take care of my mother, to tend to my own spiritual, physical and mental health, to read an occasional book, and to find some time to relax and enjoy the people I love. Rarely do I feel as though I'm excelling at any of these goals; the thought of adding anything else into the mix right now sets me a) laughing, b) weeping, c) panicking, or d) all of the above.
So can you help me out here? Can you think of some goals that sound good but that I can do in my sleep? Do you think they would buy it if I said I was going to spend the year learning my C-major scale and memorizing "The Spinning Song" and listening to some keyboard music on my new mp3 player while exercising at the club?