June 2007

Cosmic Shifts (not on the violin)

June 23, 2007 10:04

I've spent this past week on a roller-coaster of hopes, fears, relief and more fears concerning my computer. I had everything backed up on an external drive, but if my computer truly was dead, then I can't afford to just go out and buy another one....especially with the sound card and extra stuff I've been treated to over the years.

My husband is a genius. It took two total re-installs of Windows and clean starts...and a day with teh computer in parts around the room with Michael working on them (at one point I thought it looked vaguely like a car mechanic as he was upside down on his back under the with a flashlight looking up into the motherboard). First the battery was dead, which I was so proud of myself for being able to both purchase and take the old one out and put the new one in and reset the computer. But the second time was more intense. One of my three drives was bad and a cable was worn out. Luckily we have spare parts in a big drawer. I spent the day yesterday re-installing all my programs and formatting my equipment.

After all that I didn't feel like practicing at all.

It is strange because I had a few weeks of really motivated practice and very detailed work on things. I got a WOLF and FINALLY found a shoulder rest that works and fits! I loved the Kaplan shoulder horn, but had difficulties shifting as they weren't very stable on the back of my instruments. I was hopping with excitement after trying it on the violin (it is a viola one, but actually fits on my violin better) because I didn't have to make any un-natural squeeze to hold the instrument in place. It was as if I was just standing there...normal position and the violin just happened to fit exactly to where my shoulder and neck and jaw are. It was really exciting because it changed a LOT of the movements I was needing to do before that I dont have to now. THe fact still remains that if I'm stressed out, I manage to squeeze and tense anyway, using the old movements...but they aren't necessary and I just have to tell myself to breathe in and out a few times and let myself just be. With the violin there. Mostly the upbows are affected. And, well, my hunched, rounded, posture is remedied!

So...for weeks it was glorious playing (before the rest came it started, but then got even better). All I wanted to do was practice all day long.

And now....this week I have to force myself to play and practice. Can't focus. Spend more time preparing to practice than actually doing it. What changed? Oh....life did. In subtle, little ways. ANd a few days that were really full.

So I've decided that as a musician who isn't on tour and concertizing soloistically for a living...but one that is professional...I have to realize that life is sometimes really full. THat not every day can be spent with three hours of practice. That some days schedules don't allow it. That getting in one hour is o.k. It works out in the end. And being stressed out about not doing "enough" or being dedicated like I "should" be, just ruins the whole thing. Because thinking like that was what caused the subtle shift from being excited and thrilled with my instruments and music..not enough time in the day to do what I wanted...to having long tiring hours of arguing with myself whether or not I'd actually get anything done.

So. Less shoulds. Can't worry about things that haven't happened to my violin yet. and...keep all the important things in life (besides music) going relatively smoothly and the music will be there on its own by the nature that got me into music in the first place.

Yea. So. I'm back.
Jennifer

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A day of reading

June 13, 2007 12:12

The audio file is the Franck violin sonata for violin and piano, third movement. The pianist is Joy Thurmon, the violinist is moi in 2003. I did the whole sonata, but figured I'd post them in installments. :)


Today I'm taking a mental health day. :). I've been reading the site but I always seem to get cut short of finishing my pleasure reading and getting to the responding and discussion participating...

Sometimes life gets so crazy and hectic and stessful and I can't even put my finger on what it is that is making it so. I assume stressful times means a busy schedule which means a lot of commitments and the like. But a schedule can be busy and hard without a lot that other people would see as "hectic".

I've been pondering going back to school for a doctorate because it is proving much harder than I anticipated to get a private studio going...and I want to teach. I am not cut out to teach grade-school kids in a school setting. I've fought with myself about that. Whether it is fears or pride or schedule or social anxiety or what all. But it isn't that. I'm just not cut out for it. I'm much better at one-on-one...or the college environment. The competition these days to teach even at community colleges or as an adjunct is fierce. So I need a doctorate. But I don't want to move. I like this city and my house and my life. I'm happy with it. So that answers that. I just wish I could get the kinds of things that I desire college for...in the "public sector".

I've been so completely motivated on both violin and viola, I'm even surprised. I am fairly certain it is because things are a bit rough in the outside world and the inside world of my violin and viola practice, study, research, and other aspects...well...is seems cushy and fun and takes me away with such success....and mostly the inertia from it causes things to seem less dark overall...whatever the issue at hand might be.

I really want to share that with some kids. Because life gets overwhelming at times for everyone. I think we all need somethign that can help us when we are feeling down, angry, frustrated, sorry, ....etc. etc. and we dont' know what to do else about the situation. Can't get past it. I want to give them music to come to for that reprieve. Rejuvination. Refreshment. And something that can always be cultivated more and lead to something else. Music is always going somewhere, which is why it draws me in so. Even if I have no performances coming up, there is always a reason to work on music and my art.

I'm 27 years old. I know my time for entering into competitions is probably past. But I find comfort in the fact that I'm starting to feel ambition. To think about those kinds of possibilities. Trying to get a quartet put together. Stretching my brain to advertise and reading books book books about musicians, their lives, and finding what music did for them. What it gave them and how they used that.

So. Today is my break day. I've been practicing and emmersed in music as if it is a fever...it has been wonderful!! I've been searchign for that for a long time. So today I take some time away from the world at large and my world in small pieces and lie on the bed and read books about Isaac Stern, Menuhin, violin repair, Suzuki's "Nurtured by Love". And at the end of the day when calmness settles into my bones, I'll pick up the violin and play and work and know it isn't part of the "feverish" musical envelope...it is also peaceful, relaxed, and beautiful.

Jennifer Warren

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Yet another article...

June 1, 2007 11:25

I know this is a long url...but...

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/29/health/29brod.html?_r=1&ref=health&oref=slogin

There is an interesting article in the health section of the NYT online about "essential tremours". It is a biological disorder that involves shaking and tremour in the hands and sometimes the head or neck or legs.

The treatment is Beta Blockers, an epilepsy drug, etc. etc.

I really was surprised that many of the situations that are uncomfortable because of shaking hands are mentioned..as well as those little things used to cope or make it not so noticeable.

THis is relevant to v.com because there have been many discussions as to the moral or ethic argument of beta blockers for performance, lessons, auditions...

Some people have really uncomfortable nervous problems, anxiety, and get the shakes. But some people shake daily or off and on for no apparent reason. And THEN get nervous on top of it and as a musician this can be a very hard thing to deal with. Beta blockers have made it possible for me to pursue a career in what I love. It made the difference between being able to continue as a violinist/violist...and having to put aside me dreams and goals and focus on something academic. Maybe playing my instrument for fun when I could.

I can't imagine what my life would be like had that second been the case. I don't know whether the "disorder" mentioned in this article has anything to do with me or not. Quite possibly. But the point isn't that anyway. It is that for some people this is a very real and challenging problem. I'm sure some of them are musicians. Violinists. There are solutions!

Sals,
Jennifer

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