Music touched her heart and soul the way nothing else could. Boyfriends could come and go, stress could mount, depression could rear its depressed head, but as long as there was music it was all OK. Music made her heart soar, her blood race, and brought a joy to her entire being. That said, the idea of practicing was never fun. She would practice when she had to, and once she got started it was easy to continue. Still, the getting started was always the hardest part.
She was lucky, or perhaps blessed, that music came easily (mostly) to her. She excelled in music at school, played music at summer camp, and dreamt that she would make music her career. She was a big fish in a little pond through her school years. She decided to follow the path and auditioned for colleges across the Eastern coast. She was encouraged by her parents to follow a different path. Music wouldn't pay. Music was hard. Music was a good hobby, but not something to base ones life upon. Music was a dream. Her parents weren't being cruel, but rational. After all, "how many violinists are there, and how many orchestras are there, and how many of said violinists actually get jobs in said orchestras." Better to learn more marketable skills and enjoy music on the side.
She would have nothing of it. Music was in her breath and her blood.
There were auditions. They were scary. There was travel to more auditions. They were just as scary. The letters started to come back. Each letter was received with trepidation, but once opened (and often read with one eye closed) the answers were the same. Accepted. Accepted. Accepted. Accepted. The response to those letters was always the same, with the girl and her mother screaming in excitement and running up and down the halls of their home.
A college was selected in Upstate NY. It was close enough for her parents, and far enough for her to be happy and satisfied.
Classes began, soon followed by the schooling. There was so much she didn't know. So much she didn't have experience with. So much to learn. Practicing wasn't something to fudge around with anymore. This was Serious Business. There was theory. There were scales, arpeggios, position work, vibrato... She needed to be more disciplined in her practice. Her heart and soul poured into the music, but her skills weren't at the same level. She began to practice more often. She would venture to the practice rooms in the bowels of the music building and practice.
Hours were spent in those small rooms.
At the end of the academic year, music students had a Jury. It was their final exam for the year. For the violinists, they would walk out onto the large, empty stage, and they would play. Everything they worked on for the year would be thrown out for the judges to dissect. This was not was the violinist excelled at. Solo playing was a terrifying experience. Being part of the corps, a strong player in the middle of the section, that was where she was comfortable.
The Jury began. She couldn't hear anything aside from the blood rushing in her ears and the mistakes she made. The results weren't very good. She passed, barely, but she would have to step it up if she wanted to continue on this path.
Practicing began in earnest. This was her path, right? This was her dream, right? MUSIC. The colours, the emotions, the magic that came from playing the notes and being part of the group. MUSIC.
So she practiced. A lot. And then the pain started.
Shooting pains in her wrists and her right elbow. She pushed on, of course. One needs to suffer for their Art, right? Hours at a time, day after day, she pushed on. Her sophomore year was not a good year. Ice, meds, braces on her wrists, nothing helped. She limped along, barely making the grade. There were tears and screams of frustration. Dreams were not supposed to hurt. Her second Jury was not successful.
Courses needed to change as her plans for her future needed to change. The doctors, and there were several, told her that she damaged herself and she could either have surgery, or stop playing. Surgery that wasn't necessarily proven, so said her parents. Surgery was not an option. She contemplated a life without music and found it was bleak. Too bleak. She thought about not continuing anymore, and attempted not continuing anymore.
Her junior year included a lot of therapy. She continued to play, but very infrequently. She sang more, but it didn't touch what she felt when she played her violin.
Her senior year came and went. She played even less. Then she stopped playing.
For five years.
She didn't touch her chosen instrument. She sang less. Music was too painful to listen to.
Life stumbled along. It was a shadowy existence. Music played on the radio, but almost never classical music. The true Changing point happened at Sterling. Walking down the stone and brick path, she heard a violin. She ducked behind the pork pocket booth and stood, slack-jawed, watching a musician play. It was a joyous sound. It had depth, energy and life. It was a deep breath after being under water for too long. It was Music.
She began to play again, slowly. She changed her repertoire. She discovered she's heard this kind of music before, when she was young, and reveled in the feelings it rekindled in her.
Now, some 14 years later, she's still playing. She performs. She still doesn't practice like she should, but Music is part of her life. It is her chosen path, and her career. Still, she rarely plays or listens to classical music because of the pain, physical and emotional, that it stirs in her.
Recently, last night in fact, she turned on the radio and heard the Brandenburg Concerto. It was incredible and she couldn't turn it off. After the Brandenburg they played the Concerto for 2 Violins in D minor. Feelings of sorrow and joy flooded her. The music was so beautiful, and so familiar, but she'd never be able to play them the way she used to. Not without pain. Tears flowed. Loss tempered with the knowledge she could play equally beautiful music without pain was a huge comfort. Knowing she's instilling a love of music in her daughter, and with her students consoled her further. Knowing she brings joy to those who listen to her play reminds her that she made the right career decision. It hurts, but her path is still there. This is not a pity party. Music flows in her life, and in her blood, and thats what matters.
Bach Concerto for 2 Violins in D Minor, Issac Stern & Shlomo Mintz