Monthly Archives: June 2012

“I was happy the one time I played for an audience.”

My ex-wife (and best friend) sits across from me in the living room, crying.

“I wanted to help him so much.”

The elderly man had come to her for a violin lesson.  Before he died, he told her, he just wanted to get better at playing the instrument.  But now his hands were shaking so much from his chemotherapy that he couldn’t play that day. So they just talked about his violin and his life.  “I’m not going to have a another treatment.  My body can’t take it.”  He’d play at the next lesson.

Quicker than anyone expected, he passed away.  No violin lesson.

His daughter asked her to play at the funeral.  “Edelweiss,” his favorite song.  Allison has picked a solo Bach movement, too, one in a major key that feels to her like his spirit.

She looks at me, over our morning cups of coffee.  “His daughter says she asked him when he was truly happy.  ‘The one time I played in front of an audience, when I was a child.'”

The one time he played for an audience.

It’s a Buddhist funeral.  Maybe he believed in reincarnation.  Some of my mystical/spiritualist friends do, for sure, and sometimes I sense that on some unseen energy level they may be right.

“Maybe he came to meet you in this lifetime and will study violin in the next,” I tell her.  “Look for him a few years from now, when you’re starting a three or four year old.”

He or she will be that enthusiastic, happy one.  Finally doing in one lifetime what he was born to do in the last.

I hope that’s true.


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Tears in My Eyes (the SCOTUS AHA affirmation)

Tears came to my eyes.

Doesn’t happen very often: a U. S. Supreme Court decision that makes me cry.  I’ve known so many people who haven’t been able to get health insurance, heard of people who have been dropped by their insurance, etc.  Absolute catastrophes.

And people who hang on to jobs they don’t like–jobs which need people who are enthusiastic about them to be done well–in order to keep health insurance for themselves and their families.

I have an individualist, libertarian streak; a function, I think, of the rugged-individualist tradition in American life and reading lots and lots of Ayn Rand–at times fanatically–when I was in my early twenties.  In some areas, the truth is that we are all in this together.

I’m sure there are many things that can be improved over time with various aspects of the Affordable Healthcare Act.  I look forward to the process playing itself out.

For now, I’m grateful to everyone who made this possible, and for everyone who will benefit from this.

(And I celebrated by washing my kitchen floor!  Which happens about as often as Chief Justice Roberts siding with the liberal wing of the Supreme Court.)

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Thanks, Greg!

If you read this blog, you know I am a fan of Greg Sandow and his blog.  (And like all fans I don’t agree with him all the time!)  On sabbatical last year, I had the good fortune to sit in on an entrie semester of Greg’s “Classical Music in an Age of Pop” course at Juilliard.  He got his students to shift–for at least a while–into a mode of sharing what their music making really means to them, and to imagine how they can use that to connect with potential audience members.

When Greg recently started offering online branding workshops for professionals, I was one of the first to apply.  Today we finished our three-session course, and I have a new sense of clarity of who I am, what I do, why I do it, and that it really is worth doing and telling people about.  Greg is imaginative, knowledgeable, encouraging, challenging, and most of all see what’s special and wonderful in other people.

My wesbite–and career planning–are about to take a quantum leap forward.  Exchanging ideas with other participants and was engaging, enlivening, and thrilling.

So if you’ve read about Greg’s online branding seminars, look into them. It’s a fantastic opportunity, and I doubt he’ll be this accessible and such a low price for very long. I know he pisses some of you off some of the time–that’s part of his mission in life.  His work with individuals on getting clear on who they are and imagining how they can present that clearly to the world is totally independent of whether some orchestras need a new model or not, or if there is a classical music crisis or not.

I’ll be first in line for whatever he sets up next.

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In the village of the fiddlers

I really should be writing a press release for Wednesday’s concert, but by the time I’m done with that I may not have any blenergy (for blog energy–did I just make that up?).  Something on Andrew Sullivan caught my eye yesterday or so–blogging to generate ideas, and how that’s an essential difference between blogging and writing an article.  The distinction clicked for me; I get stuck with blogging because I want to write an essay or other piece, and then it can feel intimidating.

Wonderful time at the Indiana Fiddler’s Gathering yesterday evening/night.  At the Tippecanoe Battlefield park in Lafayette, there’s a central performance space.  There is also a big camping area, with hundreds of fiddler’s and families in tents, with people sitting around in small to medium sized groups jamming, sharing ideas, passing down traditions, etc.  You can walk around the camping area, and the sonic experience is amazing.  When I was leaving, about 11:30 PM, I got myself positioned equidistant from two groups, so I heard one in the left ear and the other in my right.  So Ivesian.  Turn my head towards one, and it was in aural focus wit the other in the background.  Hearing them at equal volume in each ear, in different keys and in different meters, was stunning and did things to my brain.

By virtue of where I happened to park, I had come in through the tent village and was touched by the communal nature of it all, and by all the groups making their own music.  So different than a classical music festival event.  Can you imagine an acre or two of tents with people playing chamber music? And then a big performance area for professional shows?  What a different set of relationships.


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