Not Tonight; I Have a Headache/New Puppy/Date/Life
I always nag my students about time lines and planning. This is partly because I am both terrible at conceptualizing time and I am highly productive despite this fact. I am lucid enough to know that I could be much more productive if I internalized an understanding of how much time is required for everything.
I love the studiously blank look that comes over their beautiful smooth brows and luminous eyes as they wait for me to stop talking. They nod and assure me that it is all under control. I try a different tack and remind them how chaotic my life is, that I might not be available for emergency reed sessions the night before their concerto auditions. I remind them that they need to find their passports if they want to do international competitions. I remind them that they have school exams the same day as they are performing Rite of Spring with their student orchestras. They nod calmly. I sigh.
We all understand the concept that we have to fulfill our duties (work, studies etc) even when we don’t feel like it. We know we can’t always get what we want exactly when we want it.
But do we understand that sometimes we have the opportunity to do exactly what we want (make a great reed, make a recording, play a concert of the repertoire we love for an audience that loves us) and life might (will) throw curves that make if feel impossible to do any of these things?
Flights are late, instruments are damaged, babies are born, family members get ill, accidents happen, houses get sold and you have to move, income tax looms, cats barf on your music….
This spring, a bright and passionate young grad student wrote to me and asked if she could take some lessons that focused on the technique and planning required to be a soloist. She was organized enough to get funding for this project. But then she had to move and got married then got a new puppy and life was too busy. I have not heard a peep from her about the noble project that we had agreed to undertake.
Just this month, one of my best students asked for summer reed lessons and I suggested dates then heard nothing from him for three weeks. Suddenly he was in a panic and had to have a reed lesson or he would never be able to practise properly again. I reminded him of the three week silence, and he said that his grandparents had been visiting. I said that was lovely, but now I am in the middle of recitals and recording prep and cannot see him until the fall. I sent him to one of my senior students who is also in the midst of a complex life. I was kind but absolutely unavailable.
Life happens in churning layers. In this last year, I have premiered concerti while moving house, performed concerts while looking after sick parents, passed my own kid in an international airport, moved twice, made two recordings, released two other recordings, picked up a dead possum and NONE of this is more than what any other professional musician does. We all have astonishing stories. My best friend in the world had to play a concerto with the Vancouver Symphony three months after brain surgery but a book could (should) be written about him.
We have to do many things at once. We cannot wait until everything is perfect. Because, as musicians, I believe we have one of the best lives possible and we have to keep sight of this and move towards it despite the intervening forest of tigers that intermittently pops up.
Nuts, I think I forgot to book hotels for my out-of-town musicians on the Vivaldi project… gotta go now.