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Back to the reason for it all.

April 11, 2009 at 3:33 PM

I just read Karen's and Emily's blogs and they put into words much of what I've been spending a lot of time thinking about lately.

Juggling 'real life' with being a musician is hard for all of us, maybe even particularly if 'real life' is taken up with music things.  There is a part of me that feels a bit trapped lately, and it has to do with the balancing part of what I do. 

When I first began teaching it was (with my teacher's blessing) as a means to an end.  I was a stay at home mom with 4 kids, and the lessons provided me some money to pay for violin lessons for me and my youngest. 

As years went on, my kids left home, I went to school and ended up with a full studio...I have about 34 violin and piano students.  I could have more but feel full.  I also have a very part-time job at my church, play in two orchestras, conduct a youth orchestras, play in various pits, have a string quartet that does summer gigs and am in grad school part-time.  All of this on top of having my last chick at home in her last year, and grown kids/grandkids in 3 cities about 5 hrs away. (All of whom expect to see mom regularly:).  In the last 2 years I've lost my school job, lost my mom to cancer and had various other family dramas play out.  Given all of this (and I understand that some of you have it even tougher) I've felt really good about the fact that I continue to get up every morning, mostly with a smile on my face, and enjoy life.  I tell myself regularly, "self, you're doing OK".  :)

However, I have noticed a seems that in my slog-through-it-all days, something has fallen by the wayside.  That something is the thing that was the core reason-for-it-all in the beginning.  My violin, my music....  I've lost that.  I find it ironic that I, who began teaching in order to support my violin habit, now am identified primarily as a teacher.  I'm a good teacher....I know that, and am comfortable in that identity.  I have a waiting list of students who wish to get in with me....but I'm hardly a player any more.  I mean, I spend a few minutes of panicked practicing before certain concerts (like the one last weekend...Scheherezade!! aaahhh!!) and I prepare for what I need to do, but I no longer have time to explore new territory on my own.  Even in my own mind, I've made a shift and find myself feeling insecure when asked to play certain things that are within my range...I think of myself as a teacher, and not a player. 

Now obviously, you must be a player to be a teacher....that's not really what I'm talking about though.  I keep my skills up, but it's been a long time since I went exploring on my own...discovering some new thing.  I feel like I've lost that person who, in the early days for example, had a burning desire to be able to play the Bach Double. 

As my youngest heads off to music school in the fall, I realize that part of this in me is that my focus she began to advance more and more, the focus went on her rather than me.  She was 'the violinist' of the house...I was the mom, and the teacher.  Not her teacher, but a teacher.  She is a gifted player, and as we began to set goals and dream dreams for her (she did get accepted with the teacher/school of her choice) I lost sight of my own goals.

I've decided that I'm either going to cut back my studio or at least NOT let it grow.  I'm busy enough.  And I've already written notes to the manager and conductor of my local symphony, recommitting for the year.  In recent years, I missed quite a few concerts due to the circumstances.  And, biggest thing is, I'm changing my attitude. I've gotten to the place where I almost resent the symphony for the way it handles things (real problems) but have lost sight of the fact that this is something I love to do.  I once dreamed, as an adult beginner, of the day when I'd be good enough to play in the symphony.  Now they count on me and I resent it? 

But mostly, it's about the music.  I get to be a part of that wonderful music...  I need to embrace that as a gift and give it my best offering.  So, I've already told my kids (who occasionally give me a hard time about my weekend commitments) that I'm playing more next year.  And, I'm reorganizing my life.  I'm even considering taking lessons again....Maybe even just once every 2-4 weeks, to give me a reason to set goals and make progress. 

As an adult beginner, there is a lot of catching up I must do, many pieces I've not yet played.  Recently I was on YouTube and heard Ida Haendel's rendition of Kreisler's Preludium and Allegro...a piece I've always loved but have never played.  I've decided that this is the next goal...learn that piece.  Just for me...

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

Yay for you for picking a goal!  Are you going to be extra gutsy and force a deadline on it, or do you plan to take your time?

From Dottie Case
Posted on April 12, 2009 at 3:35 AM

Much as I might like to jump right in and choose some early deadline, I need to take my time.  A goal of having it done when I go to Chamber Music Camp is August is appropriate.  As you all no doubt are living too, we are entering the 6 weeks of schedule hell that makes up spring concerts, recitals, shows, etc.  Plus I have a daughter graduating this spring, with accompanying guests, a wedding and a week of elementary musical theater camp to teach all in the next 8 weeks. 

Actually, as I look at my calendar, I see that I have a few days free the 2nd week of July...sigh...  ha! Maybe then!!

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on April 13, 2009 at 11:03 AM

I enjoyed reading the other two blogs as well.  I wonder if the unsettled feeling is just in the air this time of year (or if it changed for you at all after Easter).  For me, Easter helped along with the nice weather it brought.

I was especially interested in your comments about your daughter.  What I'm hearing is that you pulled back to give her some space to grow into her own musician.  My daughter is only 9, and I doubt she is headed to music school or a professional career in music, but I feel like I need to do that too.  She still identifies playing the violin too much with me, I think.  That might be one reason for me to play more viola . . .


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