December 26, 2007 at 11:11 AMI hope and trust that you all have had a very Merry Christmas and are enjoying the holiday season!
It's that time of year again where I feel like I need to sit down for a bit and take in my surroundings and try to come to terms with what has all happened this past year. The good, the bad, the great, the ugly - everything. Maybe it doesn't necessarily happen for a reason but it certainly shapes and forms the person you become and I like to reflect back on what has happened and how and why I think change is a necessary result because of those experiences.
January 2007. How many weeks until I remember to write "2007" on my student's weekly lesson outlines? It seems like I've just mastered the art of writing "2007" and now I have to perfect my 8's so I can write "2008" on all my 2nd term papers and notes. This just isn't right! Aside from that...nothing "stellar" happened in January. There were definitely moments of self-doubt and contemplation as the knowledge of university auditions approaching so fast became for the first time a very real notion and not just something I was thinking towards. It was a reality now. I had auditions scheduled and I was committed for better, for worse.
February. I put on my 2nd full length recital, playing mostly with my dad at the piano with the exception of one selection which my brother was the composer of so he did the honors and sat at the piano alongside me. It was a hugely exciting accomplishment for me! The feelings were bittersweet as all my months of hard work, preparing and rehearsing for that concert were over in a 2 hour performance. The experience of putting on a recital like that is an incredibly rewarding one. The first one I did, I had been very terrified initially because I had no idea if I could actually succeed at pulling it off, but this time around I was much more relaxed and enjoyed the experience so much more. I was so sad when it was over because it's not every day you get the opportunity to do a performance like that yet at the same time, it somehow seems pointless to work so hard for such a short performance. Whatever the feelings that follow, I love doing concerts like that and I can't wait until I have the opportunity to do it again!
March. Let the audition madness begin! Word of advice. Wrap your hands in protective gloves so nothing can possibly harm them. You know those boxing gloves? Those would work really well! As many of you know, leading into my auditions I managed to mess up my right hand pretty badly and March/April was the height of that adventure. I survived my two east coast auditions but felt less than at my best as I was performing injured and mentally my mind was going "don't cry, just keep playing" rather than reading the music and feeling and breathing it in my performances.
April. Two out of three auditions down. My hand still hurting like crazy. I had two acceptance letters, one that came with the promise of a large scholarship and I was having serious doubts about the wisdom of doing my UBC audition. Should I just say yes to the other schools and not even bother with UBC? Should I get extensions on my deadlines to confirm attendance to the other schools and still audition at UBC? What should I do? Phone calls. Emails. Physio appointments. Mental practicing. I did my UBC audition and I've never come out of a performance feeling so discouraged with my performance. I was ready to phone my 2nd choice school and say, yeah, I'll be there in the fall. But I didn't. And somehow, someone was smiling at me somewhere and thought I deserved the chance to attend what was, and had been for years at that point, my dream school. After all the pressure from everyone telling me..you'll get in....you'll get in.....and feeling like I'd somehow failed just by my audition, I was ecstatic to find out I got in. But now I had to pick - financial security at my 2nd choice school in a place I was warming up to the idea of living or my first choice school, no financial assistance and still having there be some unknown factors (like my teacher!) in the mix? Where do I go? I have only a couple of days to decide and what should I do?
May. By now I had decided that UBC was to be my new adventure in the fall. My focus was now on enjoying my last couple of months with my many wonderful students and cleaning out my studio so that the new person could use it in the fall and now have to be working around all of my old things. May was pretty laid back overall. It was my "break" in the year. Sort of.
June. Reality hits.I only have a few weeks left with my students. Some whom I've known for as many as 5 or 6 years. Teaching is one of those things that truly humbles me. Some days during the year, the last thing I felt like I wanted to do was go into my poorly heated studio at the back of the Leir House and teach all afternoon and into the evening, yet somehow once I'd arrive and my first student would knock on my door, all my feelings of wanting to stay home or practice instead would go away. There's something incredibly special about a bubbly 4 year old who bounces in, giving you a hug or an older student whose had struggles most people can't imagine yet they still stick with playing an instrument....there's something about the variety of people you meet and how well you get to know them that you can't help but love teaching. It's almost more personal than just being a persons friend. Music is such a personal and expressive tool that lets you see into peoples souls and though it might not be evident at 4 years old, there's still that certain element with many students that shows you so much more than the verbal communication you get on the surface. Sometimes too, you learn things about the individuals you're working with that you maybe never wanted to learn or that may trouble you. The relationships built with students are so delicate and so personal and so difficult. Trying to find that ultimate balance between being a good and positive teacher, with being an understanding and listening friend and still putting your foot down and letting a student know when they need to not fool around so much and actually begin to practice. That balance is so difficult to achieve and it varies from one person to the next but when you get it right, magic happens and it's one of the most beautiful things I've ever experienced.
So June...right.... at the end of June my official teaching contract at the music school ended but many of my students came for lessons through to the end of July. At the end of June I held my first studio recital. It was so scary for me! And stressful! 20 little violins to tune, all these players to be organized for. I had a venue. I printed up programs. I had assigned parents the task of bringing snacks and drinks. I had a list in front of me with everyone's name on it and whether I was playing piano or violin for them and if they had introductions for their pieces or not etc. I was so scared I was going to mess up and in turn mess one of my students up but the recital was a huge success! It was also sad as I said goodbye to many students that day who I haven't seen or heard from since. I often wonder what they are all up to and if the violin or piano is still part of their lives.
July. I took this month basically entirely off of playing and instead invested it in eating way too many cinnamon buns at Pacific Brim and going swimming every chance I got! A friend ended up back in town after an unplanned emergency sent them back to Canada. Selfishly, it was great because I was able to spend time with a friend I hadn't had a chance to see in months but unselfishly, it's frustrating and sad to see someone not being able to do what they love to do and knowing that they are frustrated and bored and discouraged about things. July was basically a time to enjoy friends and family and to gear up for the fall ahead!
August. The Young Artist Experience, 2007. What can I say? I loved it in 2006, I loved it in 2007! It challenged me in different ways than it had in 2006. It was exciting to see so many familiar faces had returned and it was exciting to see some new ones too. The repertoire was sublime - Shosty E minor trio, Brahms F minor Quintet, Tchaikovsy Serenade - mm..... how can you not love it! The end of August was spent packing and moving into my apartment in Vancouver and wandering the aisles of Ikea ....actually of Ikeas....yes...plural....
September. Oh my gosh, it's university! Everyone was telling me about how incredibly scary and hard and intimidating university was going to be and how I was going to feel alienated and freaked out. That's everything it wasn't in the month of September (mostly anyways!). The courses were hard, but by no means were they overwhelming. I never really felt alienated..... or intimidated.....Maybe I'm too self-centered to be intimidated by people? I loved almost 100% of the university experience in September. Vancouver rocked...and still does. I got to go and see the Vancouver Symphony on opening night in the midst of the Civic workers strike which was an adventure and I got to know my sister a little better after living with her again after so many years of not living together!
October. New challenges that started developing in September really escalated in October and I experienced so many things I never would have imagined or guessed I would have at this point. I still mostly loved school and I was starting to make and feel comfortable with the friends I had made and cooking for myself was such a novelty!
November. Still surviving school and midterms etc. I still absolutely loved the UBC campus, environment, my friends etc. The novelty of shopping and cooking for myself began to wear off however. New challenges present in October carried over to November and began to really wear on me though which added some stress and anxiety to other areas of my life. A renewed outlet for me was practicing piano and fooling around with writing snippets of things again.
December. SNOW. IT DOES SNOW IN VANCOUVER! But it only lasts for a few minutes. Or on December 1st, it last a few hours. Long enough to mess up the transit system! I was nearly late for a recording session with my quartet! Classes were over which meant a little more freedom to hang out with friends. A movie night here.....a concert there.... but it also meant final exams! So study study study!!! Apparently I was crazy enough to actually write a composition in the mix somewhere too! It was a great release to sit down, a goal in mind, and actually write a piece/mvt again. I hadn't done that in a long time and I think it really helped me get re-connected with my music again in more ways than one. I'm so thankful that I actually did it because it's reestablished a love and hobby that I had put on the back burner for a long time. I survived finals and got the results I expected, mostly (the one I got that I didn't entirely suspect was a positive result!!) and now I'm back home with family and having a chance to finally remove myself from what all has happened and look back on it and say to myself... you know... I'd do that differently another time or I'm really happy I got enough courage to do or say that.
In summary. This past year has brought new challenges, new friends and new experiences. I've thought a lot of things I never thought I'd think. I've done things I'd never thought I'd be brave enough to do. I've not done things I thought I'd be brave enough to do. I've grown so much (and I think in a positive way!) this past year and learned so much about myself process. It's been an exciting journey with some pretty interesting roads to follow and scenery to see and I'm anxious and excited and nervous and scared to see where the path will lead me in 2008!
And with that..... at 3:09 am..... I'm going to sign off!
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