I recently had the disappointing misfortune of having to bow out of a performance due to illness. It was a unique opportunity to perform five solos at three church services on a single Sunday. And I was very excited about it, especially on my newly repaired flute. But with a fever of 102 and a sore throat, I just didn't feel up to the task.
But in hindsight, I regret the decision not to play. It's not like I haven't performed sick before. I had pretty much the same symptoms two years ago when I performed at my father's funeral. I had no intention of not performing for my dad, but just in case, my mom made it clear when she picked me up at the airport, that my illness "wasn't going to get me out of it". I only had to play one short piece at the funeral, as opposed to practically all day long like with this last gig. But the performance for my dad went quite well considering.
I cancelled my latest performance a day before the event giving the pianist enough advanced notice to put something together on her own. She said it went very well. But I can't help wondering if it would have been more professional of me to have made a greater effort to be there. How sick is too sick to perform?
I really don't know, but I guess it depends on several factors and it's different for everyone. I would have pretty much had to be dead myself to miss playing at my dad's funeral. And even then I still would have felt guilty. LOL.
Also, it seems that professionals would have more of an obligation than someone who was performing for free. And I suppose if the venue had no alternatives, you would have more of an obligation.
Another factor would be the instrument. A pianist or string player might be able to perform with the flu better than a singer or wind player. And a singer could probably perform better than a drummer with a broken arm, for example.
My sister used to get "sick" every Saturday night before she had to sing a solo in church when we were growing up. But she always sang anyway and sounded great. I was sick before my last recital as a college music professor because my cubital tunnel syndrome (which hadn't been diagnosed at the time) was particularly "active" that day causing enough performance anxiety to make me physically ill. I eventually muddled through, though.
So, I guess I really don't know. How do people decide when they're too sick to perform? If I have students who say they're too sick to play on the annual studio recital, do I just say "okay" or should I probe to make sure it's not just a common case of stage fright?
I really don't know. I'm asking?
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