Fall photo shoot with violin and festive violin hat knitted by my mom
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how better to express what I’ve been up to this year to friends and family (other than taking festive photos of my instrument). When people ask me how things are going I often joke that I’m not up to much and that this is not “real life,” when actually I’ve been feeling really good about the work I’ve been doing here, though it may not be the type of lifestyle that I am used to.
I, like most people I know, am used to being really busy all the time. The entire time I was in college and the year I took off after my masters degree were a whirlwind of stress. I thrived on it, I even enjoyed it most of the time because I was doing something I really loved (and still love). Unfortunately, that level of stress all of the time came at a cost for me. Playing my violin caused me to hurt physically, but the time I spent playing did not allow me to address any of these problems and the harmful way I was playing only made matters worse.
I want to be that busy again, I think being busy is a wonderful way to live, if you’re busy doing something you love, but I want to do it right.
So here’s what I’ve been up to during this year that I’ve been fortunate enough to allow myself:
I am so lucky to be able to take this time to collect myself as I move forward in my post-graduate life. I know this seems rather extreme compared to what most would want/are able to do but I definitely urge anyone who is having mental or physical anxieties, which in a musicians life is unfortunately quite common, to allow themselves time to take a step back even if it’s a small thing like taking a day off or allowing yourself a little time every day to stretch or meditate.
Here’s an article written by the Dean of Lawrence University’s Conservatory of Music, my undergrad, that highlights a lot of what I’ve been thinking about lately: Do Less!. This is a wonderful model for the type of thinking that I think needs to be encouraged much more in the high stress culture of the music world. There’s a difference between being productive and being constantly stressed out, and this balance is difficult for people who are driven. I’m still working on this balance every day and I would love to hear how other people handle their stress.
Thank you so much for reading, take a breath.
P.S. Here’s a great yoga video on breathing and movement: Yoga with Adriene: Breathe and Body Practice
Along with many musicians, I have dealt with muscle tension as a result of my violin playing for a long time. I hope that this blog will be useful to those dealing with similar issues as I talk through my ongoing journey to play my instrument pain free.