My first two return-to-memory lapse experiences didn't deter me from continuing. Indeed, since I already had so much performing experience under my belt, I knew that all sorts of things could go wrong--and right. What bothered me the most was the distinct sense that I had so much more work to do in order to competently play music by heart.
A little over a year had passed since the first two lapse experiences, and I had become considerably better and more confident with playing from memory. I already had had a number of successful half-recitals, and I was playing a full recital at a number of venues during the winter and spring of 2012. Nothing ever went perfectly, but then again, even when I had played from score, nothing had ever gone perfectly. As musicians, imperfection is something that we have to accept early on.
I was playing on a series in Portland, Maine, and the recital had started really well. I had already played this full program a number of times, and I really didn't have anything to fear. However, at the start of the second movement of a Rameau suite, I found myself trapped in a loop. I kept attempting to make my way forward, only to find myself back at the beginning over and over again. (Thank you, M. Rameau, for those circles of fifths!) At this point in my memorization saga, I knew all of my landmarks really well, and I had had plenty of prep time--unlike before my second lapse experience. The lapse got so bad that I stopped the movement, told the audience that I needed to start again, and, probably owing to having the pressure off of me at that point, continued with a successful recital. (Sadly for me, it was all too easy for me to focus on this one bad moment in an otherwise good performance. Such is our humanity!)
What was going on? I had already beefed up my memorization techniques, and I thought that I had all of my bases covered. Apparently I didn't.