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ain't baroque! :||
Don't Fix It

Playing an instrument does not make me happy

I love music. We know this because I write a blog called Ain’t Baroque.

You love music. We know this because you read a blog called Ain’t Baroque.

But today I would like to talk to you about how music causes me BLINDING RAGE.

A couple weeks ago I was ever-so-gently railroaded into auditioning as an alum for my grad school orchestra. Although I have always hated practicing, I have also loved being inside the music; I thought, hell, may as well give it a shot. So I set up an audition time, borrowed my old violin back from my mother, and set about putting together an audition piece. I unpacked the violin, jury-rigged a shoulder rest, opened up an old Sukuzi, and…

God did I sound awful. Half an hour later, I canceled my audition.

Look, I haven’t played violin in, I don’t know, four years? And I knew, somewhere in there, that I wasn’t going to be able to just magically pick it up again ’cause I felt like it. I did know I could work at it, and get better, and eventually make something akin to real music. But the fact of the matter is this, was this, has always been this: it doesn’t feel good to play.

Holding the violin was not like coming home. It was not an old friend. I didn’t smile ruefully at my own incompetence, and I didn’t decide, with the great ambition and determination of the heroine of a novel, that I was going to practice every day until I could play Beethoven’s Spring Sonata with the same easy grace I did in eleventh grade.

Because even when it was easy and graceful, it was never easy. Even when my fingers flowed and my intonation was right on point, I never felt graceful. At my peak, at my best, my practice time yielded mostly anger. My successes brought me little pleasure. I can – I have – listed the reasons, my justifications, for why I don’t like to play, but the ultimate truth as that it does not make me happy.

There. I said it. Playing an instrument does not make me happy. It makes me angry. It makes me hate myself because I can’t do it right, and it’s not just a matter of practicing harder. Improvement does not make me happy either. For me it has never been enough to be quite good. If I can’t be Itzhak Perlman then I don’t want to play this game.

So. I tried again and nothing was different. And that makes me sad. I wish I could do it, I do. It’s just not where I belong in the music world. But I can write about it, and when I do, I sometimes find myself in a groove where all the words flow, and it’s easy and graceful. That makes me happy.

I may not be a musician, but damned if I don’t just shoehorn myself in among you anyway! There is a place here for all of us – sometimes it’s not behind a music stand, that’s all.

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About Jenn

Despite being the former digital marketing intern at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Jenn German does not like Mozart. Beethoven could've totally beaten him up. Also she has an arts management graduate degree from American University, but this changes nothing.

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