Updated: Sep 28, 2020
One of the bright spots from quarantine was spending some time painting.
I love the feeling of the paint brush gliding on paper, with the effortless ease that the water provides. And I love watching the way the water and color interact, enhancing the properties of the other.
But perhaps the greatest part about painting- is the freedom. I am by no means 'a painter,' and therefore there is no ambition, identity or ego to taint my joy.
I remember quite a distinction from when I played music 'for fun' and when I decided to be 'a musician.' Unfortunately this unofficial title change came with a heavy burden of mental pressure. Suddenly, all sorts of things were tangled up- music as a hobby, a passion and a career became intertwined with my ego and suddenly I had a gigantic mess. (If you are an artist, then I imagine that you may have experienced this as well?) I kid you not: this mess has been a piece of work to unravel.
In an attempt to honor your time and not bore you with details, I will say this- music is music, a viola is an instrument and I am me. I found that reminding myself of these simple facts helped rid my mind of the tangled mess.
Music is music: No matter how much passion and emotion I feel in a piece of music, it doesn't change the fact that it is just music. While of course there is real power in music, I have found that my emotions can take things out of proportion...and in a literal sense there are no life-threatening or physical consequences if I don't play a double stop in tune etc.
My viola is an instrument: While I, as a moody and constantly evolving human being, am not the same one second to the next, my instrument is not nearly so fickle with its wooden boundaries. No matter how I feel or how difficult something may seem, it doesn't change the fact that my viola maintains all of its instrumental capabilities. And let's be clear, these magical wooden boxes are certainly able to do whatever you can imagine on it.
I am me: No matter how I should be on stage, or how I should be in a rehearsal etc., I am just me and I want to play music. And perhaps the scariest thing is that I am not the same one day to the next...so how I play today is rarely the same as yesterday. But it isn't worth it to waste effort to fulfill any expectations...I would much rather that I, as my imperfect-self am playing music.
Anyways, I've found that reminding myself (and my students) of these simple things can do wonders in the pursuit of artistic freedom. Good luck to us all!