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.