All posts by hannahviolin

I am a violinist. I also enjoy running, working out, reading, and hanging with my friends and cat.

Friendversary

4 years ago April and I ran a little race together, and bonded over various things going on in our lives. She is moving away soon and I will miss her dearly!

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We had a lovely dinner at Treehouse last weekend. Did I mention how sad I am that she is moving??

And next week I’m visiting Phoenix. It will be nice to get out of town and take a week off teaching. I’m playing a gig while I’m there, so it’s not a total vacation, but it will be good enough. I don’t mind admitting I take vacations, because I work pretty hard. There’s this one, there’s a bigger on in August (longer that is) and there will be a few long weekends over the summer. I need to rest and recuperate…sometimes people think freelancers dare not take a vacation lest we miss something. If I miss something, I’m sorry. I need to be able to clear my head, and it’s important to me to travel as well.

Stress levels are sort of low. The semester is over. Recitals are behind me. Summer is basically here. Maybe soon I’ll even get more chances to sleep late!

The Rain Finally Seems to have Stopped

This rain has been out of control. And all the flooding is just terrible. We’ve had some garage flooding, but nothing too bad, thankfully, but I have friends who have definitely had worse situations and I am thankful the rain has finally stopped!

It’s been a busy time, as I always tell you. And I’m worn out. I just want to lie around and read, or go and walk around in the sun (finally sunny again today!). I don’t want to work, or worry about the future of our country and my health care…I’m tired!

I am basically on a semi-summer vacation, which is fabulous. I finished up at Lindenwood on Monday, and I’ve just got a small amount of grading to do still, but then that’s it until next fall! As for Wash U, I guess I have one more student left to teach, and I already submitted my grades. This week was jury week for some of the students (all at Lindenwood, one at Wash U) and it was nice to see the students perform and demonstrate the work they’d put in. I think every one of them could have practiced more, but I suppose most teachers think that, always.

And then Wednesday night I taught a lesson to a student who is graduating and found myself getting quite sad—he’s been my student for 4 years and is going away to college, and I started worrying that I hadn’t encouraged him enough, or that I should have pushed him towards a double major, or insisted he get a better violin…but the fact really is: he teaches himself, mostly, because he is one of the only students I have that actually puts in the hours of practice time needed, and if he wants to double major, he will. Nothing I have done will stop him! And he knows he could use a better violin, but it’s always a question of money. And I am just not going to be pushing students to go into music. I encourage them to be the best violinists they can be, but no one should be pushed to major in music, because the career path is just exceedingly difficult, and should only be navigated by somebody who insists upon it!

I don’t know though. I do doubt myself a lot…that is to say, on whether I’m doing a good job teaching. I’m easy going and I want them to have a good time. I don’t yell, I don’t tell them how terrible they are, I don’t pit them against each other. I don’t believe that music should be a competitive sport, and I hate that the orchestra audition circuit has made it so…but for a 7th or 8th grader there is absolutely no need for them to be stressed out about making mistakes. So then they think I’m soft…or that I’m not picky enough. I suppose you can’t please everybody all the time!

Anyway, just rambling. I am constantly learning and thinking about my philosophy and my methods of teaching, and how I’m interacting with my students. I hope it makes me a better teacher, always adjusting and reacting. I’ve learned a ton this year teaching at two colleges (and really enjoyed it!), and look forward to starting again in the fall (after refreshing over the summer)!

Scenes from the last week…Friends of Music Concert and a Rally. Fun stuff included dinner with April after the concert and a three course Italian dinner for Restaurant Week on the Hill. And reading: I’m well into a long series of mysteries by Mary Daheim, called the Bed-and-Breakfast Series. They are silly but fun. Sometimes it’s nice to read a long series where the characters become like friends.

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Always up for more, as you know! Though I’m planning a most-excellent summer of fun interspersed with gigs and teaching. Hiking, biking, camping, and more…

Saturday Morning

I wanted to sleep in this morning, and I did my best. I woke up at 8:30 (they tell you that when you have kids you won’t be able to sleep in anymore…they don’t tell you that it’s actually not because you have kids, it’s because you are older…maybe “they” don’t know this) and now I’m drinking coffee and doing “stuff” online. I even did a short workout, though not outside because it’s cold and rainy enough that I just didn’t feel like it.

I’d love to be able to sleep like I used to, but I just can’t anymore. Maybe it’s aging, maybe it’s the constant stress of the last year…either way, I am enjoying my morning and relaxing. There’s also something so precious about waking up before you have to…it’s like bonus time.

The next week is pretty overwhelming. Maybe I overuse that word. I know I can handle it. I was looking at my schedule and trying to figure out what I need to do this weekend to prepare for it. I just have (as always) a few extra things added into my schedule and one of those is looking like it will require more practice than I’d initially thought. And as we are just SO close to the end of the school year/semester, I find myself wanting to just do outdoor activities and daydream and read rather than continue to buckle down. It’s hard to keep at it, day after day, isn’t it? I know plenty of folks work way harder than I do, but I feel like I put in a good week of work every few days Winking smile

I know that the emojis I like to use tend to throw off the formatting, but I don’t want to give them up.

Are you going to the March for Science today? I am working during it, but considering the Climate March next week. I’m also considering not doing it and focusing on getting all my work done, and maybe over the summer I’ll be able to be a better activist. I still make my phone calls, at least occasionally, and I am an active resistbot user.

Unrelated: don’t you feel like a real adult when you handle fairly complex banking issues? For instance, I had a small amount of stock with a brokerage company and recently found out that company was changing to a monthly subscription model and I needed to transfer the account to another company. My initial impulse was to hide under the couch and then maybe just give up and cash out, because that seemed easiest, but I did a little research, and I think I’ve successfully submitted the proper paperwork. ADULTING for the win! (We’ll see. If I messed up, I suppose they will let me know.) See also: filing taxes and paying quarterly estimated taxes (as adulting examples.) I’ll still say that my biggest financial success to date is paying off my student loans, but I want to continue financial successes. I figure that these things are supposed to be complicated, but if somebody with a master of music in violin performance can figure it out, it isn’t rocket science.

I think I shall get a little bit more coffee now. I have to play a wedding, practice, and then tonight attend a symphony concert. Tomorrow is a bike ride, a rehearsal, and a piano concert at Wash U. Last night we had dinner at my favorite Mexican place, Lily’s, and then I stayed up late reading. It was fantastic.

Looking to Summer

What is it about warmer weather than makes me crave a vacation? Laziness?

Honestly though, only a few weeks ago I was completely gung-ho over all kinds of musical/career ideas. And now I’m exhausted and dreaming of vacations. May is a good month for those, of course, since the college semester is tantalizingly close to an end (along with those paychecks though Sad smile). We’ve got a camping/float trip planned along with a WEEK in Phoenix visiting my sister, brother-in-law, and, of course, niece. Perhaps she will be a fancy violinist by the time I leave.

I’m also looking at ways to make this summer more relaxing and rejuvenating than last one. The nature of mine and Louie’s jobs are that the fall and spring semesters are busier and we need to try to get back on track over the summer in order to hit life hard in the fall. Last summer we ended up being too stressed out, annoyed, and then ultimately took what was supposed to be a great trip (and it was!) but ended up being even more stressful and ended up with all kinds of car damage from the bear and hailstorm, and came home more frazzled than before. I’m experimenting with ways to make the summer better. I’m going to reclaim more of my time—no more days where students come with huge breaks in between, so it’s a day I feel like I work all day but for very little money. I’m planning to take a few short trips during the summer in addition to our longer, more relaxing trip in August. The August trip is still camping and hiking, but we aren’t driving as much and we are spending 3 days in each place. Hopefully the bears leave us alone too.

Does anybody have any good weekend getaway ideas from St Louis? I’m looking for inexpensive, relaxing, outdoorsy, and fairly secluded. 2 to 4 hours drive? Maybe a little more if worth it. Dog-friendly a plus.

Anyway, I’ve got a stack of things to do today, but thought I’d pop  in and say hello. Other fun summer plans include visits from and with family, playing an opera (maybe more), and teaching some students for other teachers, so it’s like having new students except you don’t have to stress out over messing them up entirely Winking smile I’m also teaching at a new summer camp one week and playing a series of concerts at a series of retirement homes with a flute trio. Wait, where did all that stuff I said about relaxing go?

Good Friday

This month is flying by. So is life! I realized I haven’t blogged in quite awhile. This is due to being busy, which is a good thing.

I was talking with a fellow freelancer about the concept of “busy-ness.” You’ve read various articles about how being “busy” is the new response everybody gives and how being busy shouldn’t be the goal, and all of this negative press about being busy. The thing about being a freelancer is, being busy means we are working. To me, though busy can be exhausting and overwhelming, busy means I’m paying my bills, I’m saving, I’m going to hopefully retire someday. Busy is good. I enjoy nights off. I enjoy having days off, on those rare occasions in the spring. (Saturday!). But I also enjoy working, I value it, and I’m sorry that I’m so busy I can’t do it all. I also hate turning down work, because every call for a new gig is a possibility for something amazing to happen, and having to say no means I’m saying no to that possibility. Sigh.

So I’m busy. What have I done since we last “spoke”? One thing is that my parents stopped by for a quick visit. We had a nice lunch, walked around Forest Park on an absolutely beautiful day, and then they were able to come see me play with the Metropolitan Orchestra of St Louis. Unfortunately Louie came down with a nasty stomach bug (he actually went to the doctor, which means something…neither of us are “go to the doctor” people) and couldn’t enjoy it with us, but it was a short and sweet visit. Then I hit the ground running (as always, it seems, even though I worry, I worry about work a lot) in preparation for all of the extra Palm Sunday/Holy Week concerts.

Dad had an unusual looking lunch.

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Mackenzie and I at Forest Park.

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I guess nobody took pictures except Mom, since there aren’t any of her Sad smile

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The orchestra concert.

Looking back through my pictures, since then, I voted (again! If democracy is important to you, you need to vote in all the elections. Call your reps, show up, VOTE.)

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And I’ve been practicing, reading, dog-walking, running, doing it all.  Except hanging out with friends hasn’t really been happening. It turns out you can’t do it all. One day though, I shall be retired and have time for everything. Except work Winking smile

My parents were visiting after a bit of a camping vacation. I feel like Louie and I have a lot of interesting stories after our camping trips, but my folks really have more (except no bears, that they have been luckier/smarter). I suppose if you camp and travel enough, the stories start to add up. I made a new life goal after chatting with them. For instance, they had a story about having to pack up their tent in the middle of night due to bad weather, and drive away. And most recently, waking up and realizing the rain had turned to snow, and going to Denny’s for breakfast hoping it would melt by the time they returned. Maybe some people don’t like these sorts of adventures, but they do keep life interesting!

I’m finding it hard to be motivated to practice when the weather is so nice. The other day I was thinking to myself, did I have anything pressing to practice and decided, no, so I read a book instead. Later that night I realized I had completely forgotten the quartet concert tonight! (We are playing Haydn’s Quartet arrangement of 7 Last Words). I don’t know if that’s a sign growing old (as Louie suggested) or just being tired? Speaking of tired, I woke up an hour before my alarm today. I was dreaming of a day to sleep in, but then when I woke up, I couldn’t sleep anymore. I remember days I could sleep and sleep forever, but currently that is not in my cards. At least I can go to sleep pretty decently at night, and I’m just a little tired. Sigh.

On the bright side, there’s a great article in the New York Times (fake news!) about how 1 hour of running can add 7 hours to your life. Or it just feels like it Winking smile Read it! And then put on your running shoes and go for a run. If I weren’t about to go play a concert, I’d join you!

April Showers

We all know that expression! But anyway. I sit here at the computer, waiting for my parents to arrive for a short visit. It’s been a hectic week, of course, but that goes without saying. I look back over the past year and am pretty happy about what I’ve accomplished, but I am finding I definitely need to stay on top of things! I’ve let a few things slide and I’m trying to figure out how to keep it all under control.

One thing I tried to incorporate last year was a monthly student newsletter. I’ve let that slide this year and, as a result, my students aren’t as up to date and informed as I’d like them to be. I had 4 students play at the Festival yesterday (so proud!) but I wanted more. I need to make sure everybody knows what is going on, because we are ALL busy and pulled in so many directions. I think the newsletter can help with that. I need to make it monthly and it needs to come at a consistent time. Maybe the first Monday of each month? I’m not going to make that this month, but I can make it a new goal.

I’ve also set up a small ad buy for my teaching website. While most of my referrals are “word-of-mouth” I know I need to be a little more proactive. I have three graduating and I’ve lost a few this semester. While I’m pretty busy at my two college positions, I still want a few more private students. A more full studio means better recitals and MORE word of mouth. All of this plays together!

This weekend has been more of a work/relax weekend than anything else. We hit up the Mexican restaurant right near our house on Friday night (they sent an email advertising cheaper than usual fish tacos so Louie and I were drawn like bugs to a light!). Yesterday I worked until 6 pm (I ended up having to judge a few students in the morning, including saxophone which is traditionally one of my least favorite instruments. I tried to be impartial and not hold it against the student though!)—Festival, rehearsal and teaching, then walked the dog, made dinner, and read. It was nice. Today I’m free until evening and am looking forward to a short visit with my parents.

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My parents are pretty hard-core campers. Look at my mom standing in front of their tent in the snow! I don’t envy them too much, as it looks quite cold,  but I do envy their time to travel. (This is a thought that drives me to save for retirement..I just filed taxes and I’m currently broke because I put all my extra money into retirement savings. Fingers crossed the car repairs I sunk money into last month hold up for awhile.)

Anyway! You’re probably watching Opening Day today, but if not, come out to see me play with MOSL in Kirkwood this evening. That’s the group I’ll be solo-ing with in the fall (so excited, can’t wait, must practice!) so you’ll hear more about them in the future.