Addition & Subtraction
It’s been months since my last post and there’s a good reason for that—my family has expanded (like the galaxy). Where there were two, not including the cats, there are now three. Gravity has accordingly shifted and so we spin around our beautiful daughter, adapting and learning whilst trying to find the ‘how to’ guide we are sure she came with. This small addition has equalled a subtraction, “free time” has become the most elusive of commodities. In fact, this moment to return to my blog is being accomplished through that special gift known as jury duty. If only there was coffee available…
Here’s my big artistic discovery from the arrival of this new life form called my child: Addition and Subtraction. If you ever gave yourself a timetable or worked by a schedule as an artist, you can say goodbye to that structure in terms of time. The days of quietly contemplating a piece, gently pulling it apart, and plotting your approach while sipping a coffee have ended. We’ve gone rogue, guerrilla style missions move everything forward, time is snatched and intensity is everything. The work doesn’t change, you still think about it, worry about it, and labor at it…constantly. But you have these ah-ha moments in unexpected places, at least I do – like the produce aisle at the grocery store, while folding tiny baby clothes, or pushing the small earthling in their stroller. It’s really amazing how the subtraction of opportunity occurs but the addition of necessity allows you to get the work done, just differently. Clawing my way to the practice chair now happens at any and all hours. Each session looks different and if there isn’t a coffee propping me up, the work may not get done. I should buy stock in Bustelo. The only thing guaranteed, these days, is that I’m going to change diapers, read “Goodnight Moon” out loud (which everyone should read a few times), and that my practicing is going to be fragmented across the day, week, and month. All I can say is I make a lot of notes—musical bookmarks are my friend.
As a student one of my instructors told me “You don’t understand how busy you’re going to be if you get to do this for a job.” I should have had that tattooed on my arm and read it each morning as I got up at, what I thought of at the time as, a hellishly early 9:30am. Was this man a sage, a psychic, was I having a Marty McFly moment? No—he’s the bass trombone player who taught me conducting and orchestration (and he had 2 kids). I should send him a gift just for having had to watch me fumble around with that baton for an entire year. Let’s build him a low brass shrine.
So, after many sleepless nights, poopy diapers, crock pot meals, baby meltdowns, 2 Fret Fests in one semester, jury duty, and thoughts like: “How am I ever going to play again?” I’m back at it and slogging out the practice sessions getting ready to perform and record with the support and coordination of my mighty spouse, Susan. As the concert season begins, I’m excited to have the chance to be back on stage and to share a whole new pile of works in concert. To quote the great Steven Tyler, whose father was a piano tuner btw, “I’m back in the saddle again.” Addition and Subtraction…it’s a whole thing.