Break!

It's been quite the semester. With Bartok and Shostakovich and Arensky and so very many new students, not to mention Ravel and Still and Hibiki Trio and several orchestral concerts, I am tired. I am thrilled to have input grades into the system this afternoon and now be officially done with my Ball State duties for the Fall 2014 semester!

I'm looking forward to some rest and relaxation (which is very hard earned!) and time with friends and family. I've got some exciting concerts coming up in the Spring semester, so need to get started on practicing for those... soon. ;)

In the meantime, I have one more orchestra concert this weekend, with the Anderson Symphony. It's a Christmas concert, which are always fun to play. But before rehearsal tomorrow, I desperately need to clean the house. It's been getting worse and worse as the semester got more and more busy! So without further ado, I'm going to sign off for a few weeks, and go clean up our home. See you all in 2015!

Happy practicing!

All in a day

It has been another full and eventful day at the Meidell studio. My day started with a photo shoot for my new faculty ensemble, the Hibiki Trio, with Elizabeth Richter and Mihoko Watanabe. How exciting is that? We had so much fun playing together last year that we became an official faculty ensemble during the summer! With everything we have going on this semester, our inaugural concert won't be until the Spring semester, but I am looking forward to working closely with these amazing musicians (who are also really fun women!) this year and into the future.

After that, I taught! With eight new violists in the studio, it's quite a change from last year. I'm really enjoying so many new students, though I must admit, the administrative parts of the new school year-- coupled with organizing chamber ensembles, lesson schedules, answering emails, and everything else-- make me feel more distracted than I want to be when working with new students. I think things will settle down after this week, and hopefully everyone will get into a groove starting next week. I know I could benefit from a less hectic headspace!

After lessons, almost my whole studio met for our first Studio class. Unfortunately a few people have class conflicts, but either way, it was so wonderful to be surrounded by smiling faces and so many C strings. :) We didn't do any playing today, but rather got to know the rules (i.e. went over the syllabus) and got to know each other a bit. 

And then after organizing a few things and sending a few more emails, I went home. After dinner, I finally started practicing for the day. Though I'm not getting in as many hours as I want, I am finding that things are coming back together a little faster than I thought they would last week. That is a nice surprise. I even ran the entire Bartok concerto! There are definitely a lot of spots that I need to clean up, but on the whole, it wasn't half bad. I'm starting to think it's going to be really fun playing this monstrous work with the BSSO in October.

And now I think I will actually relax a bit before I go to bed and wake up tomorrow to do it all again! My desk at home is swamped, and my desk at school is swamped too. There is still a lot of housekeeping to be done, but there's a light at the end of the tunnel. And that light is oddly viola-shaped.

Happy practicing!

Angela's Recital

It has been a very bizarre last few weeks. An unfortunate situation at our rental home forced us to find a new home and move in a very short amount of time. But James, Tula, and I are settling in to our new home and are grateful to be leaving the drama of the old home behind us. I am happy in our new house, though it is still a completely disheveled mess! It did not have a fence, but our new property manager gave us permission to install a temporary fence, which I did today. We also installed a doggie door for Tula, so now she has access to outside without the possibility of her wandering off. I know she likes the freedom of being inside or out!

And all of this happened during the last weeks of classes! Needless to say, it's been a stressful few weeks. A highlight, however, has been my Master's student Angela, who just performed her recital. I am so proud of the work she did this year. It was a challenging program, and her performance tonight was the best I'd heard from her. Yay Angela!

Happy practicing!

Balance?

As I mentioned in my last blog post, this semester started off strangely. Things have settled down into a more-or-less regular routine at work, and yet, I still feel unsettled. I've been reading a book, "The Happiness Project," by Gretchen Rubin, which is inspiring me to look at my habits and tendencies, and to try to find a little more happiness in life by making simple changes. But the problem is, I don't know where to begin. There always seem to be an unsurmountable number of little tasks that need to get done. None of them are especially difficult, but they are time consuming, and I just don't want to do them. For example-- at the start of the winter break, I edited a whole bunch of videos from my October recital, posted them to my website, and was really happy to have made a dent in the project. But I still haven't finished, and now I JUST don't want to. So I wrote it on my white board as something that needs to get done, and every time I sit down at my desk that task (along with all the rest) stares at me. There are 11 tasks on my white board-- only 5 have been completed... and one has been there since August! Sigh.

Plus I haven't been practicing regularly. It's one of the things I love to do most, and yet, it always gets pushed behind things that MUST get done. Projects with deadlines, paperwork, emails, dirty dishes, etc. have all taken precedence over what I love. Due to the wacky start of the semester, none of my students were ready to play in Studio class on Wednesday. We sat around talking for a few minutes, and someone suggested that I play. So I did... but I was less than pleased with my performance, and frankly, embarrassed to play for my students at a level below my personal standards. 

It's been the same thing with exercise. I finally went for a run again a few days ago (and it felt GREAT!), but now it's been so cold and slippery, I don't want to go out again. Thankfully I'm meeting a friend at the gym tomorrow. I'm hoping just getting myself over there will be the inspiration I need to go back? We'll see.

I don't generally blog about such things, but I'm hoping that by "putting it out there" I'll persuade myself to take care of some of these nagging tasks, and find some semblance of balance between work and home life. I know that I'm happier when I'm regularly practicing and exercising... so now it's just a matter of finding the time to make that happen.

How do you find balance?


BSU Begins

On Monday, classes began at Ball State. The summer went by quickly, filled with moving boxes, moving hassles (including a tow truck towing the 26-foot Penske truck that was towing James' car), new house woes (all worked out now!), a quick vacation to West Virginia, and a week of orientation activities before classes started six days ago. It has been a whirlwind month, but finally I feel more-or-less settled in our house and in my office. It is a beautiful office. I cannot get over the amazing facilities in which I now work! What an incredibly pleasant place to go to work every day.

And I finally have time to really practice again. I am preparing for a recital in early October, and have spent a good portion of this day off (!) working on some of the pieces I'll be performing. More than the rest, I find myself playing the Reger Solo Suite No. 2 in D major, which I utterly love. I truly enjoyed working on the First suite for my recital at Tech last October, and am, again, truly enjoying working on this second Suite. What amazing music. I'll have to prepare the Third for my next recital. :)

I think my favorite part of being a string player is the ability to play multiple sustained notes at the same time. I can accompany myself, and especially appreciate doing it to the refined music Reger composed in these Solo Suites for Viola.

Happy practicing, indeed!