Monday, April 16, 2018

the lucky day I said no to the lady in a fur coat


I went down my Boston memory lane and remembered a wonderful day I'd almost forgotten.
We arrived to Symphony Hall late but the box office was heaving. It was a premier show featuring a celebrated opera singer. Our friend had left tickets at will call but for some reason, we never got to will call. I just remember the shuffle of people. A woman in a fur coat approached me and offered to sell me her tickets. I said no thanks and found my fancy ticket scalper amusing.
Soon after she left, a man approached me.
XYZ: "Are you a student?"
My backpack and lack of formal wear might have clued him on. This was my normal symphony attire. I sat in the house during the free rehearsals as well as attended the occasional concert.
XYZ: "Today is your lucky day. My daughter got accepted to college and I'm leaving the concert early to celebrate with her. You and your friend are my guests."
We followed him through the crowd, through passageways. It happened fast and like a dream. When we finally reached our seats, I found we were on the balcony just over the percussion section. We were looking at the conductor's face and not his back. Conductor Seiji Ozawa!
I never caught the man's name who graciously gifted two students that night with amazing balcony seats. He disappeared to celebrate his daughter's college acceptance. I write this story to never forget good people are in the crowd. Out of chaos; wonderful things come. I send my thanks to the universe for this man and the memory.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

deep and simple

This past week was humbling and exhausting.
Was it the slightly punishing summer weather with its windy afternoons and sneezy nights? Was it the car engine hiccups and worrying commutes between appointments and visits to the vw specialist, or was it my teaching week?
Earlier this week, I wrote a letter of recommendation for a student interested in volunteering to counsel at a teen suicide hotline. She's 14 and has been volunteering for several years in different places. Midweek, a student shared that middle school was a tough adjustment. Peer pressure was a burden that made her sad and I could feel she was controlling her tears when she spoke. I saw how delicate and strong she was. Remember middle school? I told her that if she asked any adult, many would tell her it was an awkward place, sometimes miserable. She is doing all the things I did to survive middle school; journaling and diving into hobbies that give personal satisfaction. She's discovered photography as I did at her age. And she has piano lessons with me twice a week. Lastly, I had a lesson with a mother who missed her son. He had reached that stage where he had outgrown hugs and won't enjoy mom/son duets at the moment.
And each of these students made beautiful music despite the circumstances that weighed into their day. They may have fumbled a note here and there but they were graceful and gracious through the dissonance.
I was present to some gorgeous poignant moments. I hope you had a few. Moments where you are a soul watching time stand still while being with someone who needed a witness to their sadness or their fears. Live deeply and simply.
I hope you were able to bring comfort.
It was a beautiful, humbling, and exhausting week.
"Deep and simple is far more essential than shallow and complex." (Fred Rogers)

Monday, April 9, 2018

stunning solitude


Surrounded by people, Solitude finds a second to wink at me and I realize a magical silent moment....
There are at least four people in this shot. I waited a moment for the baby stroller to move out of the frame. And for a few seconds, it was only me and the garden.
Some need activities to raise their energy. I need quiet time. This weekend, I played the piano some and made notes for my chiro.
My left hand feels weightier and energetic while my right hand feels like a ghost. If I was a director, I'd tell my right hand that it needs to work on it's presence and projection. My right hand still shakes. I entertained random questions like how would I keep very still if I had to hide from a ghost or raptors that broke out from a science lab.
I had to figure out a few positions to find my stillness. My imagination was entertained. It made pain less dominant.
How my world sounds when I find stillness...
The neighbor downstairs cooing at her puppies and the puppies' happy response. The neighbor upstairs singing to himself. The rhythmic whoosh of cars going along Laurel Canyon. Sometimes it's the birds singing, another part of the day, it's the kids at play in the schoolyard, and summer evenings, it's the crickets singing.
Solitude is stunning when you can enjoy its conversation and not be interrupted.
A bit of homework I give my students is to write down 10 things they hear while sitting alone at their piano. I enjoy their lists. The "list" was inspired by a violinist friend when I shared having several piano students who did not have an instrument to practice on. Aside from "air piano" practice, what else can I suggest to help them grow? Hence, the "what do you hear when you are alone" list; an exercise to fine tune how one listens.
It's not only about what you hear but also how you listen.
What do you hear in your solitude? I hope it's stunning.