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.