Covid-19 was the first time I had time to take a step back from the trajectory that I was on, focusing strictly on performance. The pandemic gave me space to think about where I was going and what I wanted to do. I had arts that I enjoyed doing but viewed them more as self care practices that worked for me rather than something that could spread further. When I started performing again the following year I felt more anxiety than I had before and needed to find new strategies to handle it. In preparation for my masters recital I created a collage that embodied what I wanted the performance to be and visual aids of corrections that my oboe professor had given me.
The beginning of creating the collage was challenging because I initially tried to create a 3D model of lungs with flowers coming out of it. I bought glue, fake flowers and ribbon at a craft store and spent a couple days trying to make the image match what was in my head. It was frustrating because I could not figure out the mechanics of how to make this piece. It felt like it was starting to be counterproductive to the job that the finished product was supposed to serve as an embodiment of the preparation that I had put in this year.
I simplified it and started thinking about all of the things my professor had said to me throughout the year. It was really fun to pull images, even altering the pictures to fit how I saw it.
I was very proud of how it turned out but it was not until I hung it up on the side of the stage and my accompanist and stage manager said back what it meant to me without my explanation that I realized that something I made outside of performance could translate my internal thoughts. This collage was the first time I started having conversations with people in the music school about performance anxiety and sharing what I had learned through doing this activity. I learned that the art that I was making had power regardless of if I wanted to share it and that if something is not working it’s ok to readjust the method that you are working with. Collage is a method that has stuck with me. I have yet to try it with a large group of people but I am inspired by seeing how it has helped me with my wellness and am interested in how it would impact other people.