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Emily Grossman

Rambling Thoughts over Sushi

September 16, 2009 at 7:46 PM

After two failed attempts, I finally made it all the way to Anchorage in time to reach the music store before it closed.  Two weekends in a row, I was so busy having fun on the mountain that I didn't bother to get down in time.  But I'd promised the kids new books, and I needed to look through the bins to get some ideas.  If I didn't go this time, I was officially a slacker teacher.  Slacker...  Gosh, this year it seemed so difficult to make the transition from summer mode to fall responsibilities.  Fortunately for the kids, rainy weather kept my trail shoes in the gym bag, and I drove past the mountains this time.  Maybe the music bins would spark something for my musical drive. 

An hour later, I left the store with a bag of shiny new books, including the Bach double concerto.  I could play that with a student, possibly.  If no one else would play it with me, I could record one part with my camera, upload it, and play along side myself.  Heck, I could even add my own accompaniment while I'm at it.  These were my thoughts as I ate my sushi alone at the local Asian market.  As I sat there, each bite reminded me of all the times I stopped for sushi on the way to symphony rehearsal over the past three years. 

Still no word from them as to whether they would be using me.  They told me when they hired me that since I wouldn't be able to attend all the rehearsals, I could only be hired as a substitute.  That meant that if they ever had enough violins in Anchorage, they wouldn't need me anymore. 

As I waited patiently for an answer to the query I'd emailed them earlier, I'd been trying hard not to think about all the things I would be missing if I didn't get to play this year.  The music itself goes without speaking, of course; my whole musical career thrives from the technical challenge, the professional demands, and the relationships I build with fellow colleagues who enjoy discussing such topics as the conductor's tempi for the finale of the Tchaikovsky.  But playing those concerts offers me so much more than music--like pre-rehearsal sushi, for instance.  Then there's Thursday night celtic fiddling at McGinley's pub.  And chocolate covered coffee beans in the quarter machine.  And bistros and brewhouses, elevators and cordial doormen, and all the things that cater to the city girl inside me--the one who appreciates culture, fine art, and all the man-made beauty that exists on earth. 

Most of all, I enjoyed being able to fly across the inlet, disappear downtown, and become someone else for an extended weekend.  Anonymously, I walked down the city blocks in dress shoes with a tidy purse and a red scarf, window shopping between undisturbed practice sessions in the hotel room.  I liked sipping coffee in the corner cafe, watching people through the window, and thinking about all the various walks of life that exist in humanity.  Here I was, living the life of the symphony musician, if only for the weekend.   

I can easily put these thoughts aside when the weather is warm and the outdoors beckon.  In the mountains, I'm happily at home, and my focus shifts to energy bars, waterproof equipment, and gps devices.  Who needs heels and high rises when I've got dirt under my heels and breathtaking skylines to summit just as fast as my feet can climb?
I wished I hadn't thought about the symphony while I sat alone with my wasabi and ginger.  The pain on my palate resembled the pain that welled in my heart, and I couldn't tell whether the tears creeping into my eyes were culinary, or the cultivation of the desires of my heart.  I washed it all down as best as I could with a glass of water and cracked open the fortune cookie.  And read:


From Tom Holzman
Posted on September 16, 2009 at 8:13 PM

A very revealing blog.  Thanks for sharing, in your usual perceptive way, your conflicted feelings with us about various aspects of your life and times.  I hope the symphony uses you this year.  It sounds as if you feel a bit isolated at times in Soldotna, even though you love some of the aspects of the place that create that sense of isolation.  Good luck sorting it out.

From Bill Busen
Posted on September 16, 2009 at 9:24 PM

Bach on piano is really fun, too, so I would encourage you to learn that accompaniment!

From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on September 16, 2009 at 7:55 PM

Hope so much they will take you!!!

Good luck!!!

BTW even I that am not even a teacher like you (violin teacher is very noble by the way) but just a very very passionated amateur, ramble about this.  Whenever I have the chance to go to hotels and restaurants even if it is not often, I always say, gee I would like to be here with my violin as a professional even with all the stress they have because this is unfourtunately part of the job...    So I can imagine a bit the feeling you talk?

From another rambler : )    

Good luck to you!


From Pauline Lerner
Posted on September 17, 2009 at 12:42 AM

I played with a community symphony orchestra for several years and gave it up two years ago because of schedule conflicts with teaching.  I miss the orchestra experience more than I thought I would.  Now I'm considering trying to rearrange my teaching schedule so that I can go back to orchestra.

From Dimitri Adamou
Posted on September 17, 2009 at 3:34 AM

The Orchestra sounds like a good experience!

From Ann Marie Cordial
Posted on September 17, 2009 at 8:19 PM

And for myself, I'm dying (and working hard and practicing) to get the talent and experience to get into a Community Orchestra.

---Ann Marie

From Bonny Buckley
Posted on September 17, 2009 at 10:18 PM

Beautiful blogging.  I can relate to the different hats we end up wearing as professional musicians.  I "get" to transition today, from being a working music teacher all week and taking a couple of interviews for a fancy rooftop restaurant downtown's private wedding clients, to today:  casual Friday sports activity day at school where even teachers can wear jeans.  This is good because immediately after work I plan to get on a bus/ferry to make a foreigner's attempt to go fishing in a place where the water may be clean enough to keep the catch -- going for the weekend.  I am also one who needs the energy of mountains and clean water to keep up with the demands of  a mostly cosmopolitan life.  About that about calling them or even better, stopping by to chat with the gatekeeper?  So what if you live far away and miss a few rehearsals.  You're good and I bet you they know that!  One of my friends and quartet players is the personnel mgr for my US area's symphony.  Things happen, she gets behind, in all likelihood whatever is going on has nothing to do with you.  Good luck!!!

From Tess Z
Posted on September 18, 2009 at 11:49 PM

Emily, one of your BEST blogs yet.  Fingers crossed for you.  :-)

From Emily Grossman
Posted on September 20, 2009 at 3:12 AM

Thanks so much for all the encouraging words everyone!  Still no word, but I'm sure everything will work out one way or another.

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