Today I’m asking myself this question: Which idea came first?

Was it the desire to mock all the advice I received about my attire as a competitive musician from the wrong side of town?

Or was it the desire to play silly songs from Die Fledermaus?

It’s hard to say, really, but both wishes came true in today's video essay from the audition coach.

The video features 10 costume changes – but it’s hard to tell, because all the clothes are black.

In the endeavor to fit in with the elevated company I kept as a violinist, I felt a connection with the character Adele, the chambermaid in Die Fledermaus.

In the operetta, Adele is wearing her employer’s lavish gown at a ball. The wealthy Gabriel von Eisenstein recognizes her in his wife’s dress, and says he thinks she is a chambermaid.

She replies with the famous “Laughing Song,” which is the backing track for today’s video.

“My dear Marquis,” she sings, “Closely scrutinize my fingers, my ankles, my feet. . . .

“Both accent and inflection show polish to perfection. Such graces are the traces of our old elite.”

No one ever gave me a ball gown to disguise my origins. It’s fair to say, however, that the most deliberate coaching I received on how to present myself came from the competitive music world.

What did all that coaching get me, in the long run?

At this moment, I would say that stepping out of my circumstances has brought me to a place where I can pursue the artistry and discipline of music in a deliberate and healthy way.

Rebecca Raney - The Reckless Violinist

Respectable journalist. Terrible waitress. Reckless Violinist. Noir novelist. Longtime contributor at The New York Times. Sign up to follow my cross-platform project about money, merit and music in the turmoil of America.

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