Michelle Obama was flummoxed.
It was her first public piano recital and she couldn’t find the first note of the piece.
She had practiced hard and knew it inside out, but had only ever previously played one piano, which had a conveniently chipped Middle C. And every piano player needs to find Middle C before they start playing. And since this piano was perfect, she couldn’t. And hence she couldn’t play.
In her defence she was only 4 or 5 perhaps – and once her teacher gently pointed out where Middle C was she was fine, but the same point applies to all of us – get familiar with your surroundings before performing.
It’s why the place kicker on a rugby team practices kicking into each set of goalposts in the stadium the day before a big game. It’s part of the reason why professional musicians make sure to soundcheck before each gig, and it’s why good lawyers bring themselves and sometimes their clients to the courtroom in which the case will be tried before it starts.
Each piano has its own nuances, just as each stadium and each courtroom does. Before showtime, it’s worth finding out what they are.