When a big concert day approaches, I always feel like I’m being sucked into a time vortex that shoots me towards the inevitable ‘big day’ and when it’s over, I feel like I’ve been spat out the other side in a spin of emotions, haggard but elated, exhausted but high as a kite, older somehow. When the dust settles and I’ve come back down to earth, I definitely feel like I’ve grown a little wiser after experiencing the well trodden path of concert preparation.
The mental and physical work for a concert takes hours of dedicated, focused time. It’s amazing how much more I can still find in familiar notes. My mind is very rarely quiet to just enjoy the music. Last Sunday, I had an interesting conversation with an audience member at our house concert who was asking about exactly that: What goes through my mind as I play? It’s difficult to explain. She said, watching and listening to me play was like seeing and hearing the emotion of each character as though I was really living through them. Music to me is like living and breathing every emotion of the composer and doing my very best to be the vessel to bring to life an unfolding story that must be told.
One thirteen year old after the same concert asked how I felt about jazz, I had to be honest and explain my limited knowledge. Someone else asked did I ever write my own music? No I answered, I leave that to the pros! Although I do like to improvise a little sometimes. How were my piano playing skills? One day Nick and I hope to do an encore with switched instruments (it’s a work in progress!)
One big question I’m getting right now after concerts is about my ever expanding waist line! Baby-day is approaching fast and people have been asking ‘Does the baby move when I play?’ I also have a friend say how lucky this child is to have front row seats to all the 26 concerts I have performed since September 2017! Honestly, last Sunday was the first time I was aware of any movement from the baby during a performance and even then, it was only for a second. Much more though, are the thoughts and feelings I have surrounding music and pregnancy off stage, of which I’d like to share a few…
- Sausage Fingers! Who knew that with 3 weeks to go, I’m really beginning to understand what violinist Hilary Hahn meant when she referred to David Oistrakh’s ‘sausage fingers!’ Oh the joy of fluid retention!
- Apparently babies in the womb respond much more to live acoustic music than tunes played through a hifi. Not quite sure how they know the difference but it’s safe to say that mine is lulled to sleep most of the time even by the serious volume I’m giving it!
- My growing belly (and chest!) has meant adopting a change in technique and adapting my way of playing the violin! Travelling up the fingerboard using high positions has been challenging and I’ve been experiencing strange tension in my left wrist and shoulder. Bringing my left arm under my violin isn’t easy AT ALL! Also I’m having to lift my violin ever so slightly higher to avoid the crashing of tummy and bow!
- I have such a sadness in my heart that this baby will never meet my Father. Neither Nick nor my little boy Nathaniel met him either and as I prepare to bring new life into the world, I so wish my larger than life character of a Father was still here with us. I miss him so much…
- How much I took for granted the art of standing! I just want to be on my feet, feeling the earth beneath me, gravity pulling me down helping me to maintain my grounding. When I stand and play my violin, somehow my ‘mountain’ or ‘tree’ pose gives me weight and security that sitting on my immobile behind does not!
- Taking time off.. Ha! This baby will come when it decides it’s time. When that may be, who knows. Yes, doing my last recital two weeks before my due date is cutting it close but I figure that if I keep playing, these normal, soothing, dulcet tones will hopefully (fingers crossed!) keep the baby where it is!
So much goes through my mind on stage and off regarding music and becoming a parent again but it’s so good to take a moment to be grateful and try to embrace the unknown. I want to let go of the need to control things and just try and be open for all that life throws at me. One thing is for certain, this baby will come when it’s good and ready and honestly, I can’t wait for this concert on Sunday, it might just be the most exciting of my life!