In Response to Stress

It's been a doozey of a semester, but there's finally light at the end of the tunnel. I don't know what made this semester so much more stressful than the rest-- perhaps it was going to New Zealand during the second week of classes, or perhaps the amount of brand new music I performed-- but I have to admit that I am glad it is almost over. 

After a classic Christmas extravaganza concert with the Anderson Symphony Orchestra last night, I've had a calm day today. I even found time to hang some holiday lights outside on my front porch (they're blue, and make me smile). Probably the most relaxing thing I did today, believe it or not, is play viola. And I mean play. I didn't practice. I played, because somewhere within the stress of this semester, I forgot how much I love to play viola. Cognitively, of course I knew, but emotionally I felt drained and couldn't get myself to play beyond what was required for my various concerts. But today, I played. I played boatloads of Bach Suite movements; I played the first movements of the Bartók and the Walton Concertos; and I even picked up my Clarke Sonata and played through the whole thing. Then, I decided to practice the Clarke, not because I'm going to be performing it, but because I adore the music, and I wanted it to sound better. 

And I had fun. I got lost in my sound and the colors I could create, and poured the stress and frustration that has been mounting over the last months into what I was doing. It was therapeutic, and now I feel at peace. None of it was audience-worthy playing, but it was Katrin-worthy. It made me remember that who I am-- regardless of what, why, when, where, or how-- is a musician. I love music. I especially love viola music. Even when it isn't super polished. 

So, if you're feeling the end of the semester as acutely as I've been, I suggest you give yourself permission, for a little while, to do the thing you love, for yourself alone. Don't worry about mistakes or teacher-cringing technique... Just play. It'll be good for your soul, and help you get through the rest of the year. And it might just inspire you to practice after all.

Happy practicing.