Saturday

Ah…a day off! To be fair, I’ve had at least two other days off this month, so it’s not so super rare. But it’s still nice. I am not even getting paid to protest Winking smile 

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I could have done things today, but I’m doing my part, and I must rest. Today I went for a run, I did call my congresspersons (left messages, if you are phone shy, leave messages out of office hours!), and now I’m about to make lunch and then practice. I have a lot to practice and this week I didn’t do as much as I should have.

I tell my students not to say “should” in regards to practicing, that you must do what you can, and generally every week will be full of thing to do and practicing is one of them, and that there isn’t going to be a time that you have all this free time. At least I tell my older (high school/college) students that. As blog readers know, my schedule fluctuates from having just enough time left over to feel like I should be doing more, to being slightly overwhelmed…to having so much going on life is just a blind panic. Luckily that third one is just at the ends of semesters and near Christmas, mostly!

My point here is that when I say should, I really mean…didn’t. I could have practiced more during the week but I chose to spend the time on other activities. Which means that I have some work to do, but that’s okay. The truth is, nobody really notices how well I play Winking smile

(Except me. And probably a few.)

Last night I did one of those unpaid violin teacher things and went to see some of my students perform at their school concert. It was a lot of fun! I had three playing for the annual Solo and Ensemble concert at Grand Center Arts Academy, and really enjoyed seeing them perform. I learned a little bit more about HOW they perform and got to experience it without the stress of being in charge. (Spoiler alert, they were super stressed and nervous but did well anyway). And I was very proud, and very glad I went. I don’t often get the opportunity to see my students outside of studio events simply because my schedule doesn’t allow it, but I know those sorts of things are good to do when possible.

So there’s a few random Saturday thoughts from me. Here’s an interesting article about end-of-life pet care. We aren’t there right now but I feel like all my friends have had a pet die in the last year. I’m sure that’s not actually true but since I’ve had two die, I notice these things more.

Leftovers or soup? Or both? Lunch time for me!

Unseasonably warm and support the Arts

It feels like spring is already here. I suspect (hope) it isn’t, for no other reason than I worry the mosquitoes will be unbearable this summer. I don’t know if that’s scientific or rational, but it feels right, and that’s the only thing that matters, right?

The spring semester is in full swing. I’m 5 weeks into my college teaching (out of 14 total weeks), I’m near spring break, I’m overwhelmed and stressed yet this week I’ve found more time than I really needed to get things done, which is great. I haven’t done as much exercising as I would like as the time has been awkward and perhaps, just perhaps, the lack of planning and wanting to get up earlier falls on me. I must do better!

I’ve got some fun performances coming up: Carmen with Winter Opera, and then the Ravel String Quartet. Solo wise I’m playing a piece or two on a recital at the end of April (Prokofiev Sonata, I believe, and maybe one short piece too, I’m only one performer on the concert.) And I’m learning Astor Piazzolla’s The Four Seasons to play with the Metropolitan Orchestra of St Louis in the fall, and I’m totally psyched and excited (and honored!). It’s going to be a blast.

I find myself fretting quite a bit over the news. I wrote a half dozen postcards yesterday and mailed them (the ones listed on this activism checklist) and I’ve been writing and faxing letters to my congresspersons. The news is stressful and worrisome, and while I’d love to hide my head in the sand and hope for the best, the fact is: I can’t afford to do that because others can’t afford to do that. I must stand up for those who cannot, and for those who need me to.  You may disagree, but that’s your right. My right is to call, write, protest, fax, and blog Smile

All the while playing music. Come see Carmen! Go see your local symphony or opera company. Support local artists: don’t JUST go to the big symphony or big opera company, go see a small group, a chamber group, a start-up troupe. Just like going to a mom and pop owned restaurant puts more money directly into their pocket, going to a concert by a small organization supports them more than going to the concert by the well established organization does! Don’t assume you won’t like it as much. Of course, I also attend the symphony here and go to Jazz at the Bistro, but I also try to see smaller groups (well, when my friends play, and when I’m not playing!) as those are important too. Don’t just attend Opera Theatre St Louis, go to Winter Opera and Union Avenue and more. Don’t just see the St Louis Symphony, go to the Metropolitan Orchestra of St Louis, the Arianna String Quartet, the Perseid (hah, that’s me). Go see local productions of musicals. Support artists, and support your heart and soul.

There’s my sales pitch. Maybe the federal government sees no need for the arts, but I think they are incredibly important on so many levels, ranging from emotional levels to economic levels. The arts boost the economy.

Oh, and I mention classical music mostly, but pick what you love best: visual art, musicals, plays, etc. It’s all great!

Apologies for the random post. I had a lot of ideas and typed them quickly. Publish now and off I go!

Do you hate classical music?

I’ve played a few concerts at various retirement homes recently. I’ll tell you what, the elderly don’t hold back punches. At least some of them.

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The Perseid Quartet played a great program of Beethoven and Brahms at Ladue Chapel, and then we repeated the program for a concert at a retirement home. After the third movement of the C minor Brahms quartets, one of the audience members piped up “are you going to play anything we know?” and then when we said, well, I guess not, one of her friends said “well, you tried.”

It made me sad on so many levels. One because if I were in a home this is the concert I would love to hear. We worked our butts off and played them a really good concert, instead of sight reading some schlock. But then it also made me sad for this woman, that was stuck in a place with concerts she didn’t enjoy and probably doesn’t have too much going on to look forward to.

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Another time I was playing with a flute/violin/piano trio. I’d gotten there first and was setting up and an elderly woman asked what we were playing. As I was telling her, her face fell, and she said “I don’t like Classical Music.” I suggested it was a fun program and she might enjoy it anyway, but she told me she must have gotten her nights mixed up and then left in a huff…well, as much of a huff as she could.

I know you can’t please everybody all the time. And that night several audiences members came up to us afterwards and said how much they enjoyed it. The negative comments are kind of funny, but they also reflect how we classical musicians feel in society sometimes. The thing is, I absolutely love the music I play. It means the world to me, and I try to show my audiences that, and my biggest hope and dream would be that everybody finds music that moves them in the same way. My music covers every detail and depth of human emotion and the human experience. I suppose it’s easy to hate on that! FEELINGS. Plus, then when I say that, some people hear “I think I’m superior”. Winking smile

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This is a nice weekend. Tonight we are going to see a show at Jazz at the Bistro. Tomorrow we are either going to the Pet Parade or just for a hike, and then tomorrow night I have the first opera performance of Carmen with Winter Opera. I spent the morning sleeping in, sending faxes to my Senators and Congressman (I use an online service called Faxzero, which is free for up to 5 faxes a day– I hope they are getting my thoughtfully written letters), and taking the dogs for a walk (dog-sitting for Banjo.). The week was hectic and busy, and the next one will be too, but for once I get a fairly relaxing weekend. My to do list isn’t getting shorter, but it’s not getting much longer right now either, so that’s good. Life, for right now, is manageable and interesting, so that’s good enough!

Working too hard

Does anybody else feel like they work practically all the time? And then they keep finding new things that interest them and stuff to do and it all just starts cramming together into a blob of being busy all the time?

I know we need to find time to do things like get outside and run, but it’s either the only day in two weeks to relax, or there’s bad weather (not lately!) or there’s some pressing political rally to attend and I feel like I need to do that instead.

Life is mostly good though. I’m having a great time teaching college students in addition to my private students. I’m playing some fun music (today, Perseid Quartet concert!) and meeting new people all the time. I’m still getting better at the violin, even though I should have gotten a bow rehair and new strings for today’s concert. I’m taking strides to put myself first sometimes and other people first the rest of the time. And I realized the other day that I felt differently than I had in perhaps a decade, that I can do this, that I am in charge of my life, and that I feel more strong and confident than I have in a long time.

Honestly, moving to St Louis was one of the worst life moves I’ve made, but through it all I’ve made the best of it. I still feel sad occasionally about all the great opportunities I left behind in Cleveland, and then I get angry remembering how my ex used to disparage my career and life there. Good times! But now, I have a decently thriving private studio, two adjunct teaching positions, a somewhat successful string quartet (we have a GREAT time and that is probably what matters most, but we also do some good work), a few good friends…and a boyfriend who is supportive of my long hours and aspirations, and attends most performances too Smile So it’s all pretty good, and the other things I’m doing here is working hard to make my life the way I want. Sure, the house needs work (lots of work) and I don’t make as much money as I should for the hours, but I mostly work for myself and I’m in charge…mostly.

I’m rambling again. Well, as usual. It’s been a busy few weeks, and though I feel like I’ve spent most of it dealing with email issues and other computer issues creating by the very people I work for (unintentionally I’m sure) at least some of it has been fun, and some of it worthy. Or something.

I’ve spent several meals at restaurants run by immigrants. Since immigrants are on the attack here in our country, I feel one of the things I can do is support businesses run by immigrants. Luckily I live in a city where there is no shortage of these businesses, and I’ve done my best to support them. This is the least I can do, while getting delicious, usually fairly inexpensive meals. After all, ethnic foods are cheap until white people start making them fancy, right? (That’s a whole thing to think about…)

Yesterday morning we attended a march in support of Planned Parenthood. Evidently some protests against Planned Parenthood were planned and people wanted to counter protest. However, the folks at PP didn’t want counter protestors protesting on site because that would still upset the people coming for care, so the March met elsewhere and then marched BY Planned Parenthood. We were instructed to not speak while going past the clinic, and not to engage with the counter protestors. We started marching, and were chanting and stuff, and then once we passed by people with signs that said “silence” we all fell quiet. It got really emotional and intense as there were people holding anti-choice signs, signs with pictures of fetuses, and more. One man kept yelling “why do you hate babies” at us. There was a line of policeman on bikes in between us and the majority of protestors, and we kept marching. I cried.

There was an article from NPR that said there were 4000 of us and that we walked by the clinic for 30 minutes. I hope that was a powerful statement of support for women’s health.

I feel a little nervous writing about this, because I know people get so worked up and angry…But that’s okay. I can’t worry all the time. I’m a strong, confident, woman, who is standing up for people who need support. I will use facts and statistics.

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And then while walking the dog later…

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Last thought for today: I see the argument, well, if you care about <insert cause> why don’t you do something about it yourself? I give money to various organizations that support my causes. And like I’d said before, my music, my purpose in teaching violin, is to make the world better through music. Let’s keep at it!

Groundhog Day

I’ve probably written a million blog posts titled Groundhog Day. We all think of the Bill Murray movie today, don’t we?

It’s been a busy week. And sad. In addition to everything else going on in the world, one of my students lost his father suddenly. Life is so short and we just don’t know how long we have. I am so sad for him and his mom, and hope they can keep moving forward.

Not to sound cliché, but this is why we work to make the world better. More inclusive. I teach. I practice (not as much as I need to, but it’s hard after opera week). I protested outside of Senator Roy Blunt’s office, against the ban on people from 7 countries, primarily Muslim. No, the executive order doesn’t say “ban”, but trump did, and Giuliani did, and many others did. There is, as always, a lot of misinformation going around, and it’s important to check your sources, but the fact is, this ban disproportionately affects people who are more likely to be Muslim, and that is not okay. Next it’ll be somebody else, or it’s be the Muslims who are already here, and that is not okay. None of this is okay. I’m sorry to dwell on this, but it’s a real danger to our way of life. People want Facebook to be “fun” again…well, don’t we all. Too bad the US elected a fascist for president.

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If my schedule permits, I’ll be at another rally this Saturday.  We are the majority. I will hold out hope that we can make a bigger difference.

I’ll go a little more light-hearted. Tonight we are celebrating Taco Thursday at Seoul Taco. Saturday night I’m playing a concert at a retirement home with a flute/violin/piano trio. Sunday is brunch and who knows what else. I have several new students at the colleges and they are all really fun to teach. I suppose I missed my calling somewhere along the way Winking smile

We’re Still Fighting

I know some people think that people should keep their political thoughts out of the public sphere.

Especially someone like me. I’m self-employed. I should keep my thoughts to myself. But I believe that part of my job as a musician is to make the world a better place. My biggest hope for all of my students is that through their violin lessons, they become more compassionate people, better able to communicate their thoughts and feelings, better able to accept their failures and successes, and better able to work with other people to achieve a goal. I have always wanted to make the world a better place through music.

Through my life as an artist, I have been fortunate to travel the world. I have been fortunate to meet people from all walks of life.

I do live in a bubble here, I live in a city, I mostly hang out with other similarly educated people, because most of my friends I have met through work. I have many gay friends, but less non-white friends than I should. I live next door to a family of immigrants and I don’t know them very well and I should. I don’t speak up enough against injustice, but I am now. I haven’t done enough in the past, but I want to change that.

I know many people say we should wait and see, that we shouldn’t worry, than this isn’t the end of the world. I agree that they have the right to say that. But we are in unprecedented times, and whether or not you agree with me on that, I hope you understand where I am coming from.

I will protest. I will call my representatives to complain. I will do what I can.

The other day I posted on facebook after calling my Senators and two of my friends commented that I inspired them to all. Me! That’s all I really want, to encourage others to do what is good, what is right. I’m not perfect, and I’ve never claimed to be. But if we all work together, in our imperfections, doing our best, we can make our nation, our world, into a better place for everyone.

I’m not afraid. I am, of course, but not of immigrants. I’m not afraid of terrorists, or refugees, or people who are different than me. I’m afraid of losing our right to free speech and free press, of losing our autonomy as women, of losing the fight against climate change, of losing our nation to people who want to close our borders and only let white people, mostly men, be in charge.

I will never understand, and I won’t accept it. I know we lost the election, but we didn’t lose our country. We didn’t lose our values forever.

Maybe this is part of why I’m here, maybe this is one of my purposes.

Let’s work together to truly make the world better. I don’t know exactly how, but if we all take small steps we will. This is not a time to hide our heads under the sand. We have been for too long.

From Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, p. 649 in my edition:

Luna said, encouragingly…“That’s right, Harry…come on, think of something happy…”

“Something happy?” he said, his voice cracked.

We’re all still here,” she whispered, “we’re still fighting.”

That’s one of my favorite Harry Potter quotes. It gets me through rough times. And of course, Gandalf from Lord of the Rings.

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

thoughts about violin, teaching, running, life.