Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What I've Learned

Barrage has been done now for a little over three weeks. I've given a lot of thought to processing what the last four years of my life entailed, and have found that it really just becomes an exercise in me daydreaming about hilarious memories. 

One thing I did, however, has turned out to be fruitful. Because I have a bad memory for certain things, I decided on this last bit of tour to try to write down everything I'd learned from Barrage -- some things are musical lessons, some are life lessons, and others are just views I've developed. I'm choosing to presenting them in the format of my favorite feature in Esquire magazine called "What I've Learned," in which quotes from an interview with someone (usually a public figure of some sort) are just printed on the page. I'm always intrigued by things these people have to say and usually find myself pondering them for some time after.

My actual list turned out to be much longer, but here are some things I found surprising, relevant, useful, or important to me in retrospect. After four years being lucky enough to live my childhood dream and travel the world with Barrage, the following is:

What I've Learned

Good music is good music. Period.

Fiddling and classical music aren’t that different when you realize, technically, they’re both based on how you use the bow to feel the music.

If I’m on stage and you’re in the first handful of rows, odds are good I can see you covering your mouth, whispering to your neighbor, and pointing to myself or a colleague on stage.

The United States really are as diverse as the media attempts to portray.

Everyone should experience trying to actually communicate with someone who doesn’t speak the same language. There’s nothing quite like it.

Humans are humans. When it comes down to it, you probably have a lot more in common with people on the other side of the world than you think you do.

Amsterdam is so, so, so much more than the Red Light District.

Remember: you’re not the only person who dislikes traveling through airports. Be kind. Chill out.

Early morning flights: window. All other flights: aisle.

There are two kinds of people: those who choose to follow the rules about carry-ons and those who don’t. Don’t be the latter. (I’m looking at you, people on full flights who put both of your carry-ons in the overhead!)

There’s something about driving a car which wrongly allows people to feel entitled: if you’ve cut off other drivers (either intentionally or accidentally), then you have no place to judge drivers for cutting off you.

Not all La Quintas are created equal.

American hotels don’t understand breakfast.

If the joint is dingy and the food is ethnic, odds are good; if the joint is dingy and the food is American, odds are significantly less good.

Hanger (hunger + anger) is very real.

No matter how good your mom’s recipe, if I ever have another lasagna it will be too soon.

There is an art to being agreeable.

Maturity is relative and can be mutually exclusive with age. Whatever your age, you can be as mature or as immature as you choose.

Seventy-six-year-olds can teach you lots of lessons; so, too, can seventy six-year-olds.

Actively knowing a teacher or mentor supports you builds confidence that is difficult to create on your own.

If you’re a performer, learn how to bow properly: bend at the waist, look at your feet, and don’t do it apologetically. And please, for your sake and the audience’s, smile. We’re all here to have a good time, right?

The point of the arts is to enrich the lives of others. Classical music hasn’t lost its ability to do this, pop music is just doing a better job of it. If you’re a classical musician, stop making excuses.

You never know when someone you meet as a young musician will be in a place to judge you when you’re older. How you act now affects how you are treated later. Your reputation, positive or negative, will precede you.

If your parents didn’t make you start an instrument, you probably started because you thought it looked fun. Too many music teachers have lost sight of this. 

A great rule for life, but a better rule for performers: you have to give to get. Audiences, whether or not they are actively aware of it, sense when performers aren’t giving and respond accordingly.

Giving your all requires more effort than most think.

You must give respect to get respect. 

While being the best is great, the only prerequisite for success is hard work.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Of the few German words I know, only one really matters.

I wasn't planning on blogging today. 

Really, I wasn't even thinking about blogging until sometime after our last show on Sunday. Maybe on next Wednesday, or something, after I'd settled in back home and started to process this giant, indescribable bundle of feelings that has begun to slowly tangle over the past few days.

But, I just finished sending a facebook message to my friend, Sarah, who is coming to our show in Wautoma this Saturday. And before I knew it, I found myself rereading the entire message history between me and Sarah going all the way back to January 2006. There were all sorts of inside jokes about which I had forgotten and countless reminders of why we were such great friends. I'm sure some of you have had similar experiences. It's a weird thing, seeing all that you've shared with a really close friend through many years.

Sarah was the friend in whom I confided everything during the long, arduous process of auditioning for Barrage. She was there in the very beginning, when I first sent in my e-mail of interest. She took my very first headshots. She helped me draft e-mails to the managers. She spent countless hours with me and my parents discussing the what-ifs of auditioning for or joining Barrage. 

Sarah, simply and selflessly, did the most important thing a friend can do: invest.

Quite poetically, the first show Sarah will get to see is my second to last. She was there in the beginning, and six years later, she'll be here at the end.

This is when the Sehnsucht started. And whenever I think of Sehnsucht, I instantly think of my English class during my senior year of high school, when I first learned the term which I understand to mean an intense yearning or longing for the past. I haven't written much about my time in high school on this blog, but suffice it to say that I loved high school. A lot. Many of my best friends today were in that English class. Coincidentally, the word Sehnsucht has become so inextricably tied to memories of high school that even thinking of it in passing often triggers its onset.

Then, I started browsing my facebook news feed and saw photos of today's graduation ceremonies at ASU.

...as if this afternoon hadn't already become heavy enough! 

When I started this entry, I wasn't really sure why I was writing or where I was going. I merely felt compelled to write. I now realize I needed to capture this odd sense of longing that I'm somehow already feeling for a thing which has yet to cease.

Is there a German word for that, too? A pre-Sehnsucht Sehnsucht?

Five more shows.