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“Today I wake up empty and frightened. Don’t go to the door of the study and read a book. Instead, take down the dulcimer, let the beauty of what you love be what you do. There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the ground, there are a thousand ways to go home again.” – Rumi

Last night I was reminded of the importance of ritual. There is a reason that the word “practice” implies some regularity and frequency at which you revisit a set of actions repeated in order to bring you into the present moment in your body. There is a difference between “getting stuff done” and “practicing”. I prefer to practice.

I went into the recording studio after missing my usual session last week. My shoulder had been feeling tweaky and I decided to let it rest. It was a great decision, and my body thanked me for it. I was fresh and actually craving the session last night a little bit as I walked in. I could feel my body getting into the mode of listening and playing as soon as I entered the studio space. I knew where to put my violin case, my coat, my bag, my water bottle. The tracks were already queued up on the recording system. I put the headphones on.

And it flowed. It was such a joy! I wasn’t trying to DO anything. I was just grateful to be back in my practice. See, I’m remembering that practice is the stuff of life. As a violin teacher, I spent hours answering questions about “how to get someone to practice”. In that process of trying to explain what practice was, I got lost. I got steered into other people’s reward-and-punishment systems, bribery tactics, making up false promises, all in an attempt to portray “practicing” – which was perceived as a necessary “evil” – as something palatable.

The truth is that the soul craves practice. Read the rest of this entry »

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Wow. This whole section in Katie’s book, I Need Your Love – Is That True?, is about how our lives are governed by our search for approval from almost everyone we know – and even the strangers we don’t know.

One by one, Katie asks us to question our own thoughts and find out what we really believe about these aspects of seeking approval:

  • Making an impression
  • Pretending to be interested
  • Making yourself more likeable
  • Minding your manners
  • Tact

I love this:

If you haven’t questioned the belief that it’s possible to win people over, and your manipulative charm doesn’t seem to be working, you’ll think there’s something wrong either with you or with your technique (or both). You may buy one of hundreds of self-help books that teach you how to market yourself – for instance, the multimillion-copy best-selling classic How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie. The author’s main suggestion is to make yourself interested in people because, he says, that’s guaranteed to win them over. If you find it difficult to do that, he has an alternative recommendation: Pretend to be interested. How is that done? Smile, remember the names of their children and dogs, write down their birthdays in your organizer so you can send everyone cards, and also pretned to agree with what they say. It’s all about impression management. Read the rest of this entry »

Last night I sat down at the piano in my studio for the first time in a long time. My mom likes to remind me that I studied piano for more years than I did violin, and it contributed as much if not more to my overall music appreciation. She’s right (grumble). But I never found that same connection to teaching piano or the community of playing piano.

I had two different piano teachers in my life. Mr. Leviton started me at age 3 and took me through age 13 or so. And then the last three years of high school I moved on to Dr. Isaak, at Northwestern University. He was the one who thought I was absolutely NUTS for not continuing to study music in college. He said I was already at the level of a typical Master’s Degree student at Northwestern! I simply ignored this, or dismissed it as the rantings of someone as lunatic as you must need to be in order to become a professor of piano. Read the rest of this entry »

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Days I Reflected Here

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