On Audiences

1. Friends and family

They are your cheerleaders sans pompoms. Filled with pride, armed with flowers they sit and listen to you doing whatever it is you're doing. Afterwards they'll tell you you were wonderful, you looked terrific, well done you. They're the all-important support network you need to stay sane, so appreciate all the compliments, do a twirl in your concert gear, and smile to the camera. You earned it by being onstage, no matter what you did there. Just going there was brave enough for now.

2. Colleagues

After the performance they come to thank you, and seeing them approach you immeadiately start pouring out all that went wrong with the performance. Yes, you're very aware of your shortcomings, yes, you know it wasn't that great. Only if you happened to play superbly well, you might find the courage to say "oh it was quite okay I guess". Usually your colleagues want to congratulate you instead of mocking you, and on a purely theoretical level you know this (having congratulated other colleagues yourself). However, the adrenaline of the performance turns you into a mad conspiracy theorist, so in your ears "it was great" sounds like "you're an ape". It's all in your head. Remember that.

3. A jury

You're playing, and suddenly from the corner of your eye you see one of them write something down. Immediately your mind starts racing: was it the phrasing, balance, rubato, my face, my shoes, what? WHY DO THEY HATE ME? It takes all your willpower not to run away crying, but you soldier on. The jury member was probably writing down a note to buy milk after the exam, or he was drawing a completely innocent flower, or a chicken. He's being paid to hear you out and say intelligent things after, he's done this a million times already, he's tired and wants coffee. Also he's a kind person who doesn't particularly enjoy crushing other peoples hopes and dreams - he'd rather give some generic, inoffensive feedback. But you don't know this, so hearing the sound of his pen your soul shatters to a million pieces and your blood pressure reaches record heights.

4. Children

They are the best and the worst audience. You never have to guess whether they liked or hated you - you'll notice it from the things they shout and/or throw at you mid-performance. If they like the show, you feel like you've discovered the true meaning of music and you dance all the way home. Let's not think about the other option.

5. The person paying you

The thank you -handshake after the performance is not just a handshake. It's a code to be encrypted: Was the handshake firm enough? What did that raise of the eyebrows mean? Was the smile approving, did the "let's be in touch" sound a tad sarcastic? Will I get to do another concert here ever again?

6. Non-musicians that aren't related to you

They just sit there and enjoy. Plus they're not obliged to talk to you after, which is great, too.

7. Critics

"Mr. Critic, please say nice things about me, please. Put those nice things on the front page and you can have my soul and my children."

8. A full house

Oh the joy, oh the nerves! You're shaking, but you feel like a million dollars when the hall bursts into applause in the end. Everyone loves a full house, but it takes a real connoisseur to love...

9. ...an empty house

Nobody showed up, but you play anyway. Hell, why not grab a drink and make a party of it. The walls will like your stuff.