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.