July 26, 2008 at 12:10 AMI was struck this week by this post in which a member was showered with judgment for deciding to take a break from the violin, give up the private studio, and just teach ("just teach"!) public school.
Sometimes I think that the life of a violinist is a recipe for inevitable burnout and/or disillusionment. When I see someone opting for sanity and balance in his life, I can't possibly look on this as a bad decision.
What comes to mind is a blog comment that Buri made a few months ago: "Draw a square to represent your life, and write "violin" in it. Now suppose you lost the ability to play for whatever reason. Your life becomes empty and pointless. Now take the box and divide it into nine squares. In each box write something that is important to you: family, relationships, reading, exercise, cleaning, meditation, cooking, practice, study, volunteer work and so on...You lose something from your life that is important you still have eight other things going for you."
I think the problem comes for violinists when they make the nine boxes and fill them something like this: practicing, performing recitals, playing in orchestras, teaching privately, teaching in schools, doing lesson plans, researching repertoire, listening to violin music, and taking pedagogy classes.
What happened to family and relationships? Reading and exercising? Cleaning and cooking? Being a human?
Sometimes the "bottom line" financial situation requires filling the nine boxes like so: working at Starbuck's, practicing, performing recitals, playing in orchestras, teaching privately.....
Okay you get the picture. This is still a problem.
ONE BOX for the violin, in all its permutations. And lay off the burnt-out music teacher. I mean, have you ever been so frustrated you wanted to quit? I have! But I didn't. Instead, I did a few more things for those other boxes (journalism, motherhood, sewing, yoga, etc.), and that is part of why I've been playing the violin for more than 30 years and teaching for 20, while most of the people I went to school with do not even play any more.
But each time I started again it was worth it. And, I think that each time I started again, I was a better musician than I had been before.
However (and I assume this is true in music as well), this was a conscious choice to step off a well-established, well-worn, career track. I will never be a successful principal investigator running my own lab, like many of my graduate school peers. Most days, I'm more than okay with this. I'm able to remind myself of the richness I get from parenthood, from music, from church and volunteer work, and realize that I'm a very lucky person. But there are also days when I'm wistful about what could have been and I miss being at the cutting edge of scientific discovery.
It has also seemed pretty obvious to me that, like scientists, most successful violinists get that way because they fill most of their boxes with violin-related activities.
There are only so many hours in a day, and if you spend 5 of them practicing your instrument, plus a couple more for rehearsals and/or lessons that you take and/or teaching commitments and/or going to concerts and/or performing in concerts, then, as long as you also factor in adequate sleeping, eating, and general life maintenance, there isn't really much time left for the other boxes.
I can't imagine ever getting sick of music. It can be a chore to practice gig charts sometimes, as opposed to practicing music just for oneself (insert favorite piece here).
What gets me down is not the music or the violin, but the politics: orchestra politics, contractor politics, music school politics, union politics, youth orchestra politics, studio politics, etc. THAT stuff is a drag!
Too much "is", sorry.
The issue was the callused method he used to dump his private students.
Yes, variety is the spice of life for everyone, not just violinists. Too much work and not enough play is a recipe for a lonely, frustrated existence.
I can understand what it is like however, as I used to do programming - eventually I got fed up with it as there was what I found "too much demand" (I was apart of an Indie Game Dev group) - eventually I just stood up and said, "No I can't do this anymore. I don't even like games." ... I just wish it went that simple though, haha.
There is more to life than submitting to demands of others, atleast if you feel that by quitting that you can gather SOME control to yourself then if it gives you peace of mind - why not?
Some people dream of playing professionally (As myself) but I've always often heard the quote "The grass is never greener on the other side" - which is true in alot of cases, I think it ultimately comes down to the persons perspective and ability to modulate between varying views and coming out unscatched! Screw conservative democracy.
((Did I just write this??))
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