Conference Call

I had a conference call this morning. For some of you that might be really normal, but it was definitely outside the norm for me. It’s for a committee I’m serving on for the American String Teachers Association, and I mostly listened—it was really interesting hearing from some “big name” teachers. Hopefully they won’t regret allowing me on the committee! I have been trying to get more involved lately in the  “community” of string teachers/private music teachers and this is part of it. I suppose I am also a somewhat experienced teacher and have things to offer as well, but I still feel like I know nothing (like Jon Snow) and that I have SO much to learn.

Then I practiced, taught a student at Wash U and now I’m about to teach a whole bunch of students here at home. If I reflect on it, I am really enjoying my college teaching and hope to have a few more students in the spring. I still love my home teaching, but it’s been pretty nice to get out of the house more often (it pains me to say that) and it’s nice to have to wear shoes. Though it’s also nice NOT to have to wear shoes, so I think it’s the variety that interests me.

Sometimes I feel like I’m not giving anything enough of my time, but I suspect most people feel like that, and so I’m in good company. I’m trying to focus on not getting stressed out and just staying focused and making sure I know what day it is. (Just kidding. Well, sort of. At work this morning I did have a moment of worrying I had shown up a day early.)

The thing is, I really enjoy most of the work that I do. It just has been causing me a lot of stress, for whatever reason. I feel like performing has been extra stressful lately, maybe because I feel like I’ve been holding myself to really high standards. Which sounds ridiculous, but the farther I get from making a living playing music (I’d have to run the numbers, but it’s definitely closer to 1/4 than 1/2 or more that it’s been in the past) the more I feel I’m playing violin better than ever. It either feels like a big irony of life, or that I should be taking auditions. To be honest, the more I talk to people with orchestra jobs, I’m glad I’m not taking auditions. Often they are just complaining or acting like they are loads better than everybody else (sorry guys, that’s how you are coming across to a lot of us freelancers) and it doesn’t make me wistful. I am wistful for more money, but I think that that is a normal human thing Smile

Probably I sound jealous, but I’m not. I’m happy with how things are going, and I’m looking forward to knowing that the future isn’t going to be as planned, and that’s okay! Whenever I start to feel stuck, life has a way of throwing new opportunities at me. Or I run after them. Is that enough ridiculous metaphors/vagueness for you? I’m not even talking about anything, I’m really ONLY being metaphorically vague.

Please keep reading Smile

Happy Cyber Monday

Today, as far as internet retailers would has us believe, is that day that everybody pretends to go back to work but actually spends all day shopping online. I don’t understand “work” evidently, as when I’m working, I am not able to shop online! Perhaps a reader can explain? I assume those are different people that the people who occasionally yell at us at gigs to “get a real job.” (Actually happens.)

We flew home late last night from Phoenix. In a surprising twist, we almost had our flight canceled due to bad weather in Phoenix! The plane we were supposed to ride on got diverted to Tucson, and still might have made it, but in another surprising twist, our flight was moved to a different plane, and by 1 am we were home safe.

Thanksgiving was nice. Things are never quite as relaxing with a toddler around, but it was fun.  We made some excellent food, took a few hikes, read a lot of children’s books, and watched nearly all of the new season of Gilmore Girls (when I’m going to finish it is anybody’s guess as I’m frantically trying to catch up on life now, but soon I hope!).

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Louie got attacked by a cactus—look at his shoe! Don’t touch as they are very sharp!

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I didn’t have my selfie stick but we did pretty well anyway.

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Just over three weeks until Winter Break. I have three performances, lots of teaching, and it’s raining. (Grocery shopping in the rain…ugh, hate it!) Winter, or at least fall is here, and that’s where we are.

How was your Thanksgiving?

Years Past

As one does with holidays, I was thinking about Thanksgivings in the past…lately I haven’t been overly sentimental. Life goes forward, and while looking back to make sure one is growing and on the right path is good, looking back with rose colored glasses might be detrimental.

Can I take a few minutes here to complain about the term Friendsgiving? And no offense meant to a certain friend who invited me to one Smile the term annoys me though! The holiday is Thanksgiving, not Familysgiving…therefore it stays Thanksgiving no matter what. If you celebrate it with a bunch of strangers, if you celebrate with family, if you celebrate it with friends (or a mix) it’s still the same. The whole idea is that you get together, enjoy a big meal and feel grateful that you are able to do that. We could get into the politics of Thanksgiving with the Native Americans, but I think it’s fairly easy to agree that we as a country treated Native Americans really badly and continue to…but what can we do about that? I don’t ask that rhetorically either. (Then again it’s also fairly easy to agree that all people should be treated equally regardless of gender, race, nationality, sexual preference…but yet here we are, fighting so hard for that. I think that MOST people do agree, and those that don’t are either really loud or really soft…and I won’t be celebrating Thanksgiving with them, and I’m frankly glad about that.)

Rant over Winking smile

Last day of teaching until next Monday! My flight to Phoenix tomorrow is REALLY early, which is one of those “seems like a good idea at the time” things…it will be good because we get to attend a luncheon at my niece’s preschool upon arrival, and then the whole day can be dedicated to making Martha’s Mac and Cheese and pies and such. And then several days of relaxing and enjoying the warmer weather (it has been chilly here for a few days and I just can’t take it anymore!).

Time to finish getting ready, practice, teach, and pack. Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Random Monday Thoughts

Random thoughts: (as always)

I can’t believe it’s almost Thanksgiving! The weather has been so warm (hot, almost) that fall still seemed to be somewhere in the distant future. Between that, stress, being overly busy, suddenly I’m two days away from traveling and feel like I’m forgetting a million things.

This fall has been a unique time. I know everybody thinks they are super busy and stressed out (and if not, congrats!) and I’m no exception, but I think I’ve overdone it. I also think the added political stress hasn’t helped. I’m trying to work with that. Humor helps, as always. Alec Baldwin on SNL is a life saver to counteract it all, for instance.

I seem to only be blogging once a week, which isn’t great. It’s fine, but writing is a little bit of an outlet for me and I think I need to make a point to do it more often. I’ve been getting overwhelmed and frankly probably been a little depressed. I haven’t been running due to a variety of factors, including but not limited to hurting my other foot somehow (I came home from the August trip with a hurt right foot from a fall).

We did manage to get a lovely hike in yesterday at Greensfelder State Park though! One commenter asked me to rate my favorite hikes in the area, and I’ll have to think about that further, but I love Castlewood State Park, the Lewis and Clark Trail (must return and do the longer loop!) and we find ourselves at Greensfelder a fair amount too. There’s not a whole lot of gorgeous scenery there, but the fall colors are still nice, and now that the bugs are gone (fingers crossed at least, are they gone?) hiking in the woods is much more pleasant.

I have three more solo/chamber music performances this calendar year, so I’m practicing hard for those. I also have quite a few choral/orchestra performances and various other gigs, of course, as the holidays are here or at least approaching, and that means extra work (!!). I’m looking forward to having a little downtime over the winter holidays, doing some traveling, doing some relaxing, maybe some de-cluttering in the house, check shredding (this is an actual thing I have to do occasionally), who knows what else.

One thought: as a freelance musician and private teacher, I often feel like my fancy conservatory education has gone to waste. I see former classmates doing amazing things, playing around the world, playing with major orchestras, and then there’s me. But when I wipe my eyes, I see other classmates doing what I’m doing…it may not have the glory, but it is still a successful career in music. We are in the trenches so to speak, teaching the kids, playing for the people, and while our paychecks might be small (and many), we are still making the world a better place through music. This is my goal in life. I want to make the world a better place, and I must not let the lack of glory and public acknowledgement stop me from continuing to help kids love the violin, to make a newly married couple happy, to play to a small crowd at a local venue…

Music does bring us together. We attended a very full symphony concert Saturday night. The program was very emotional: a piece by John Adams written after 9/11 and Mozart’s Requiem. One of my students was singing in the choir for the Adams, which was really neat to see. I definitely was very emotional during the concert. It’s been an emotional time.

I am trying to make a dentist appointment but I guess shortly after open on Monday isn’t the best time. I was on hold for over 5 minutes before giving up. I gave up mostly because every few seconds there was a long beep. I can’t believe I made it 5 minutes, but I felt bad hanging up. My insurance is changing at the end of the year so I wanted to get another appointment in since I’ve paid for it! I’ll try again shortly.

Does anybody else keep a to do list on their phone? I put everything on there, and make sure to check it several times a day. I realized I went about a week without doing that (back the other week, post-election blues) but I’m crawling out further now, step by step. Life goes on, the resistance is not futile, and hey, there’s evidently a new Harry Potter movie? Is it good?

Washington, DC

I just flew back this morning from a quick weekend trip to visit my friend April in DC. It was a lot of fun, though not the victorious visit we had planned…in light of the recent election, things are not as positive. I am having a hard time—I’d BEEN having a hard time, and the stress of this election was like a giant elephant in the room. I’m genuinely afraid for our country and for our planet. It’s a time to be alive, isn’t it? I keep trying to tell myself that it’ll be okay, that our government has all manner of checks and balances, that people have lived through worse (for sure this is true!).

But! We had a wonderful time, and I’m going to focus on the positive this week (quartet concert, Thanksgiving around the corner, wonderful loving friends and family!) and move forward. I won’t be quiet, I won’t stand down, and I won’t accept hate as okay.

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It was windy by the Washington Monument! Anyway, we walked all over, until I couldn’t walk anymore, we saw a bunch of monuments, the zoo, we hung out and just chatted, we had good food, good beer, and even went to see the National Symphony play at the Kennedy Center.

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We were at the World War II memorial on Veteran’s Day. It was very moving and emotional.

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The Lincoln Memorial.

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Look at that beautiful sky.

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Martin Luther King, Jr. What would he be thinking today? Unlike many on the internet, I’m not going to assume I would know.

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Maybe he’d be thinking about one of his famous quotes though. Or who knows! I do think he’d be out there on the ground though, protesting, marching, bringing people together to fight for what is right.

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Maybe we’ll have winter this year…but at least we finally had a lovely fall. Well, in that the leaves turned.

I’m off to practice. It’s hard, to act like it’s business as usual, but yet, it is. The world is changing around us, and we don’t know what the future will bring, but life goes on.

Anxiety

I will be less anxious, hopefully, after Tuesday’s election. So many things hang in the balance.  Fingers crossed, everybody, and if you haven’t been able to vote already, go vote on Tuesday! Everybody should make their voice heard. No, your one vote won’t “make a difference” but collectively we all do. I always figure, whatever I do, that other people will too, which makes me feel like my actions and behavior are important and that they matter. If I do something, or if I don’t do something, other people like me will do or not do the same.

We’ve had another quartet concert since I last spoke with you, I played two opera performances (fairly successful) and played with another chamber group at a retirement community. I’ve been busy! And then I got a bit of a cold, so I’ve been limping through this week and trying to take it easy and recover, and I’m getting there…or at least I’m still limping and haven’t totally falling over (to continue that lame metaphor.)

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We got in a short hike at Castlewood over last weekend. It was basically summer weather, which is uncanny…but nice, I guess!

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Halloween was fun. Louie and I went to our friends’ house to pass out candy. We had a lot of visitors, and only a few adults trick-or-treating. I kid you not: one woman showed up with two bags and said she was trick-or-treating for “the babies” who were “sleeping” and shoved her bags in our face and said “gimme some candy.” It was a bit like a hold-up, honestly, but all she got was some candy, so it wasn’t a super successful hold-up from her end.

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I got the trophies for the Arch Cup! Several of my students participated and those that received a Superior Plus get a trophy.

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So far the students have been really excited. The trophies are bigger and shinier than I thought they would be!

Go vote! (Unless you already have, in which case, don’t vote again.)

thoughts about violin, teaching, running, life.