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jennifer steinfeldt  warren

When your music breaks, do you grow, or do you dissolve into the profession?

August 25, 2012 at 10:49 PM

I have been reading through my own blog archive while sitting in a hotel recovering from a long labourious rehearsal so that I can be fresh for the concert in less than a few hours. It is fascinating (oh, I am SO modest, yes?) and interesting to read unfamiliar text that at one point shared the same brain that I use today. Except.... I used to be so much more articulate and organized and introspective and... understandable in my writing than I am now. The past few years have seen me in increasingly obscene amounts of time spent with my nose in a book as opposed to living life, so you'd think it would influence the literary organization of my thoughts. But no. It seems more that I am impressed with who I used to be in the form of expressing myself in conjunction with having useful and worthwhile things/topics/ talk about. Real content.

After three years or so of feeling lost and stuck in a musically "dead zone", I am waking up and feeling like something that has been broken in my music has been put back together in a new and unpredictably exciting way.

So why isn't that reflected verbally (the written version of a thought or concept). In the years when my music was broken, did I also lose other things that I'd never consciously associate with being musically healthy? All my life music defined who I was. Then I didn't feel as if music made me or was even inside of me. It was torture at first, but then I discovered that I was more than just a musician.

This was not necessarily a good thing. On one hand, I'd lost my drive, my passionate side of my soul. On the other hand, I think that getting burned out and turned off and feeling the deep despair of a sense of one failure after another in the hugest part of who you are... that cannot continue very long before it destructively dissolves your life in general.

So. What is my point? It has come back... because of interaction with other musicians. Because professionally I felt so screwed over that it became transparantly clear that I'd put all my efforts into an organizational system that I cannot control at all. I had no idea that my music had gotten so poisoned that I could not even TELL that it could exist beyond the perameters currently keeping it barely alive.

Then came along a few people who changed the way I saw so many things. Then came along the thing I am worst at doing: stepping away from comfort zones and taking leaps of faith...and getting involved whether or not it will be too much to handle and I will fail. Then came along the realization that friendship and musicianship can equal chamber music and relationships that rekindled a spirit of music that is parallel to what I used to feel, but more mature. And less isolated. Shared.

Now I am in the midst of perhaps overwhelming myself in the attempt to start new musical experiences and relationships and careers so that the ones existing don't tear me up so much when there is nowhere to go but down. And it is SO EXCITING. That in itself still surprises me. I'm not the type of person who embraces change. Of any sort. It is usually scary.

The point is still eluding me. I think it has something to do with understanding that music is the people who make it with us. Not all those standards and technical points. Not the hours spent practicing and the "canon" or education of it. That is necessary of course to develop the skills.

But as you mature and grow into (for me, my thirties)... you must go beyond all that to find meaning and happiness in this very stressful career in which sometimes we can be made to feel as if there is never an end to having to prove yourself every time you pick up your instrument.

Oh my! Time to get ready for the concert!

From Emily Hogstad
Posted on August 26, 2012 at 2:16 AM
Oh eeeeek so beautiful. You echo many of the same thoughts I've had...especially in these phrases - "understanding that music is the people who make it with us." and "stepping away from comfort zones and taking leaps of faith...and getting involved whether or not it will be too much to handle and I will fail"... Yes yes yes, to all of that.
From jennifer steinfeldt warren
Posted on August 26, 2012 at 4:03 AM
Um...I kind of feel honoured that my blog was looking at me when I logged on to the blog section without the effort of search. Warm fuzzies. And thank you for reinforcing the knowledge that we are all part of the same world and as such, suffer relatively similar obstacles though channeled through our unique circumstances within the generalities.

I love I would say "I will never neglect it again!", but...well... as an "on" or "off" person, I can only say that I hope to remember in those times of both connection in the musical world and disconnect, that there is a built-in, tailored community which is proven to involve me musically just a little more than before logging on.

From Emily Grossman
Posted on August 26, 2012 at 3:33 PM
I love this entry! And I totally relate to being an "on-off" person. I go through long droughts and incredible obsessions, and I understand about that period when the music breaks. I hope you'll keep blogging!

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