Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The vacationing musician

I'm not accustomed to taking time off from everything and going somewhere for no other reason than to go there, but that is what I have been doing for the past 10 days. My husband had to drag me kicking and screaming from all my Stuff -- piano, cello, kitties, garden, sewing (though note that I did not include "work" in that list) -- for a trip to Barcelona. It took me at least four days after we arrived to unwind enough to start enjoying not having to do anything more than figure out where to eat next.

I had thought that maybe I could find a piano or two along the way, but it wasn't meant to be. Our hotel happened to be a few blocks from a music school (Esmuc), so I went over there the first morning and (figuratively speaking) pressed my nose against the window, but the young woman at the front desk said no, I couldn't rent, borrow, or otherwise use one of their practice rooms unless I was enrolled at the school. Perhaps if I'd had a name to drop it would have gotten me in there, but I just gave up. However, I did take a trip through a nice museum in the same building featuring an exhibit about the history of western music, with instruments of all kinds beautifully displayed (read more about it here: Museu de la Musica).

They also had an exhibit that was a sort of petting zoo for a handful of instruments, one of which was a cello, but when I tried to play it found that no one had rosined the bow recently so it was impossible to get a sound out of it. Maybe someone on the staff had sneaked in there and greased the thing after hearing one too many children sawing away.

Note: This is not a picture of me. I nicked the link from the museum's website.

As our time there progressed, I felt my identity as a musician seeping away a bit, not altogether a bad thing. But I dreaded that feeling you get when you eventually try to play again, when the first touch of the instrument is bizarre because you know what you are supposed to do, but it feels like a distant memory at best. We returned yesterday evening, and with trepidation I sat down at the piano -- but it wasn't so bad. I played the C major Bach prelude from WTC I and then Chopin's B major nocturne, and then I decided to quit while I was ahead (i.e., before I fell over from jet lag).

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Thought from the interwebs

On one of the message boards I read, someone started a discussion about "life lessons" -- particularly things people wish they had learned earlier in life. One woman commented (and I hope she doesn't mind my quoting her):

For some reason we get it stuck in our heads that all the people we've ever answered to are still watching us and waiting in the wings to correct us -- to tell us our priorities are wrong or to critique the way we do something. Last summer I was sitting there wondering why I wasn't drawing anymore, and I realized I was waiting for "permission" from all my critics. Why they would have opinions on this, I don't know (none of them are even artists). But like many people, for most of my life I've carried around an audience of critics in my head, assuming they would correct me and disapprove of things I did or didn't do... even if they wouldn't really. Anyway, I did start drawing again, and the critics in my head didn't say a word. I may have prejudged them. Critics typically don't even notice what we do right, anyway, when it comes right down to it. So don't wait for their approval.