A Thanksgiving Reflection for Musicians

November 24, 2021, 9:01 AM · As a violin teacher, I caught myself feeling incredibly stressed in the last few weeks. It's everything - managing a hybrid studio of both in-person and online lessons; upcoming winter recitals, for which each student has their own individual needs and preferences; coaching audition preparation; handling last-minute schedule conflicts and requests for changes; planning future repertoire; planning spring group classes; starting to think about summer camp; the ongoing pandemic existential stress. It's a lot.

Then I remembered a year ago. At that time, there was no chance of seeing any of my students in-person, in any capacity. I hadn’t played music with another human being in months. I had no idea when or if vaccinations would become available or when in-person life would resume. I didn’t know when it would be safe to hug my family.

I started to think about all the things I've done since last year that I wasn't able to do a year ago. I am both vaccinated and boosted, and for us to know so much more about COVID so that I can see some of my students in-person. I got to play violin for the President. I’ve been to a concert in-person, in a concert hall. I’ve had an in-person recital for students. I can hug my family. I have cats now. I've sightread duets with friends - I've seen friends, in-person. When I start to think about these things, I feel thankful, humbled, and very fortunate.

Thanksgiving violin
Image by Amy Cordell.

Research on gratitude shows that cultivating this quality does quite a lot for us as people. It’s been scientifically proven that focusing on gratitude can "rewire' our brains, helping with depression and anxiety.

I invite musicians to explore this gratitude reflection, which hopefully will give everyone a lift as we go into the end of 2021. Please share any of your own reflection with us all in the comments, too!

1. What am I able to do now that I couldn’t do last year because of Covid restrictions?

2. Who has been there for me and helped me stay connected to music through the pandemic? Who are the teachers who have inspired and supported me?

3. What are the hard lessons I have learned that have made me more resilient and brought me to where I am today?

4. What experiences gave me hope or brought me light during the darkness of the pandemic?

5. Which artists sustained me through this, with their work?

6. To whom have I provided support, comfort, or inspiration?

7. What made me most proud of myself in the last year?

In addition to the things I listed above, I am also grateful for the Violinist.com community - thank you to all who have read my writing, shared it with your own communities when it is meaningful to you, and thank you especially to Laurie for publishing my work.

Wishing you all a very happy Thanksgiving 2021!

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November 24, 2021 at 08:25 PM · Claire:

As a life-long amateur violinist - but also as a (now retired) clinical psychologist with over a half-century of professional experience - I greatly appreciate your thoughts and comprehensive suggestions for reflection.

It is certainly clear to me (both within my profession and simply as a human being) that this past couple of years have substantially raised the level of stress on every single person, no matter who they are or what their profession or situation.

What will be the lasting effects....who knows? But I certainly hope and trust that the profound art of classical music and especially the playing of an instrument like the violin will be a continued source of transcendent beauty and meaning. And for all the incredible challenges to those who play music, let us hope that the opportunity for performance returns to its full presence.

And I look forward to the "newsletter pitch."

November 24, 2021 at 08:50 PM · Claire, Getting to know you and having the opportunity to work with you over the past few years has been a true blessing in my life. Thank you for this beautiful post!

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