“You may start whenever you’re ready.”
My hands were cold but oddly sweaty as I picked up my viola and placed it between my chin and shoulder. The bow in my right hand was shaking; I was shaking.
I was anxious at performing in front of a judge. Who wouldn’t be? Thoughts raced through my head: What will he think of me? Will he think I’m good enough? Am I good enough? The judge sat in the corner of the classroom, grading sheet in hand, waiting for me to begin.
In addition to the familiar audition jitters, I was also concerned about the tempo of the piece I was about to play. It was extremely fast, and even though I had practiced it enough at that tempo, I wasn’t sure if I could pull it off in front of a judge—especially when I felt this nervous.
I closed my eyes and took a long, deep breath before I began playing. And in that brief moment, Christian Science came to my rescue.
I’ve learned in the Christian Science Sunday School that understanding something about God can help me in any situation, and that a spiritual perspective is a healing perspective. So in that moment of pause, I combated those two initial worries with two metaphysical ideas.
Thoughts raced through my head: What will he think of me? Will he think I’m good enough? Am I good enough?
The first was that I was there to express, not impress—something the dorm mom at my boarding school had told me. By “express,” I mean express God, because I’ve also learned that instead of being a collection of skills, talents, and personal abilities, we are each actually God’s expression. This means we express qualities like harmony, precision, joy, beauty—everything good, because God is good. I knew that these spiritual qualities were manifested in everything I did, and that included playing the viola for this judge. This was a relief, because I knew I couldn’t feel afraid or apprehensive if I was simply there to express God.
The next thing I thought about was the twenty-third Psalm in the Bible. It says, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want” (verse 1). But it came to me a little differently—in a way that was perfect for the audition: “The Lord is my pacesetter; I shall not rush.” This idea helped me calm down and recognize that God was right there, guiding me through my piece. Because God is Principle, and therefore steadfast and constant, I could expect to express these qualities in my playing.
I told my mom about the shift in thought that I’d had during my audition—from being focused on myself and my own skills to being focused on God.
I began to play. I played at a consistent and fast speed all the way through, free from angst and nerves. My fingers moved across the fingerboard seamlessly, and my bow moved effortlessly over the strings, as the instrument projected a rich sound that even I was impressed by. I didn’t mess up once.
When I finished my audition, I felt confident. Sometimes after auditions, I’ll find myself stressing about how I did, but this time I felt calm and happy. On the drive back to the dorm, I told my mom about the shift in thought that I’d had during my audition—from being focused on myself and my own skills to being focused on God. I told her I was excited to apply this new way of thinking to everything I did.
The next morning, I got an email informing me that I did well in my audition and that I’d been accepted into the orchestra. I was relieved and grateful, but what I was most happy about were those moments in the audition room of feeling so close to God.