It reminds me of the process of creating a new website (or overhauling an existing one). I recently worked with a web developer and we rolled out a completely new website for a client. Just as with practicing piano for a show, there is a lot of butt-in-the-seat time that isn’t always fun.
This time…for both practicing piano and developing a website…consists of:
- First come up with the big picture of what the whole thing is about. I watched a DVD of the final performance on Broadway of “Rent” (plus I saw it performed years ago) and I get a sense of the rhythm of the show, what it is about, and the general feel of it all. In designing a new website, I first decide what image I want to portray for the company (that obviously fits with its overall branding), come up with colors and design elements I like, and decide on the overall structure and feeling I want a visitor to the site to have.
- With the musical, I then break it down into individual songs…the flow of each one, tempo, key, difficulty, feel, and more. With the website, I look at each page and think about images, links, text, what to convey, and more. And with both, how would each song…or page…fit into the whole?
- Then begins the nitty gritty detailed work of hammering out each song: working out fingering, tempo or key changes, repeating difficult passages until I can play them, what parts to play loudly and which ones to play softly. And for the website, I work with the web developer on tiny details: the size of a graphic element and where it is placed on the page, what exact words to write, what elements to put in a side-bar, and what shade of blue to use as an accent color (and so very much more).
- Slowly but surely, after continuing day after day to work through the many many details, each song or web page begins to take shape and fulfill the vision of what the composer…or I…envisioned.
- One song adds to another and to another…or one page adds to another and to another…and then eventually the whole musical…or website…comes into view and is ready to be performed…or rolled out…for (to) the public. This takes a real act of courage as it has been an act of love done mostly in private (and also in rehearsals in the case of the musical). There is a lot of anticipation. Will the public like what I have created?
- With so many details, after the first performance (or roll-out) there will most likely be errors to correct. You will probably find (or be aware during performance) most of these quickly; colleagues may assist you with pointing others out. Just go back to being detailed and work quietly to fix any errors and then replay/reload.
- As with any performance or website, people encounter it in real-time and it needs to stay current and flow with what is happening in the moment. In a musical, perhaps a singer takes the tempo a little slower in one performance, so the accompanist slows down a bit. In a website, perhaps something happens in the industry like a new event or a product announcement and so the website needs to be updated.
Once you see the whole musical…or website…come together and you see your part in creating something that attracts people and puts a smile on their faces, all the hard work leading up to it feels worthwhile. Just keep on playing…