Monthly Archives: January 2010

The right ingredients

Much to my dismay, I have found myself in the unfortunate situation of needing to educate 150 mostly freshman at once in the early morning. As I have gotten more savvy with my power point, visual aids, entertaining quotes and musical selections, asking penetrating questions and requiring attendance, I have begun to feel like I don’t exactly have their rapt attention, but at least fewer of them seem to be falling asleep in class.

This week the equipment wasn’t working, and I stood in front of a bunch of disinterested looking undergrads with nothing but a piano, a white board and my own ability to improvise. With no bell and whistles, I had to rely on my own knowledge of the material and ability to relate on a human level to the students. It was exhilarating and very challenging, but I made it through, and there was a level of intimacy and connection that I had not felt in other classes, though my lecture was a bit disorganized without the aid of my power point notes. Nonetheless. I felt extremely grateful when I saw the tech support people come into our building.

After all, how could I expect the students to have any attention span for something educational when their world is broken into such short segments of flashy information. How different our culture must have been 100 years ago for simple lecturing to work.

Then something struck me with a profound irony; every time I walk before an audience with my instrument I am doing exactly that, expecting 19th century attention and sensibilities out of a 21st century audience. Wouldn’t you rather go see Avatar with 3D glasses? On the other hand if you lived 150 years ago on a small estate and you had nothing but the bird song and each meal to look forward to, wouldn’t the sound of live instruments add tremendous color and life to your days? No wonder our audience is often white haired. They grew up and lived long enough before the current tech explosion that they have the ability to listen. So what happens when the current generation grows old?

Something I have never doubted is my ability to please people’s palettes with my culinary arts. I can almost guarantee many emphatic exclamations of joy during the consumption of my meals, an instantly gratifying feeling of success that the performer in me relishes. I am often drilled about WHERE did I learn to cook and what makes my food so good. I always say the same thing to them, that I use good organic herbs and vegetables, high quality meats, and that is half of the trick. The other is growing up with a parent, in my case my Mom, who knows how to cook.

I have always been accused of being a “food snob” because I prefer my food with the most minimal amount of, or preferably no pesticides, processing, traveling, preservatives, MSG, sugar, GMO’s, etc. .But wouldn’t this make me a food peasant? Simple, as nature intended!

And again, ironically what is considered the most “refined” music, Classical, is the most simple and close to nature: a wood instrument, a score-though the skill required to perform is highly refined. But no light show, no amp, no msg. If high and low class are all mixed up, as it seems, then stop already with accusing me of being a snob because I value quality and skill in what I do, buy and consume! This was true of peasants and royalty alike who valued quality craftsmanship and generations of collected knowledge.

But is Classical music just not modern enough for our current sensibilities? The truth is that you really can’t “update” a cello performance without leaving the genre. The most we get as far as props are sparkly tops, and sexy dresses. One would hope that we could still value and recognize skill and the ability to relate on a human level, no matter how much technology we get accustomed to as a culture. So the question is how do we keep classical music relevant to contemporary society, besides performing works by living composers? I personally believe that we need to transcend the outdated packing and cultural stereotypes associated with the art form, expressing this in how we present, package and program in addition to perform.

Last year I played in a tiny town in Western Massachusetts. The audience of farmers, teachers, administrators, cheese makers and homemakers were practically in my lap. The old man in the front closed his eyes and sighed in rapture several times during my performance. I am sure that he could see the sweat dripping down my arms, feel the intensity of my concentration. Many of those people had never attended a classical concert before. I am not sure they really even thought about what they were attending, their friend and fellow community member with the grand piano had invited them to an afternoon social with music at her house. Once I had them there I steered clear of wall to wall Beethoven, or the typical classical/modern/romantic programming. I played music that shared a common thread or cultural background. Not just a catchy “theme”, but a meaningful narrative that ran through all the works. And I kept the playing under 45 minutes. Before I went on stage the hostess laughed at my high heels, to which I replied “don’t worry, the music is barefoot”. We had a good laugh!

After a standing ovation, and 60 hugs and thanks, I knew I had done something right. I had all the right ingredients.

As for my students, I will be using even more technology today: the Iclicker, which is a device with which they can vote, answer questions and share an opinion all with the click of a little remote thing in their hands. Pretty cool technology, and I am hoping that this will add to the human engagement, keep them connected and intrigued.

So maybe it isn’t unfortunate after all that I am teaching this class. I could not have thought up a more perfect method for educating myself on how to inspire the young generation to recognize and value the beauty in the classical music art form. Most of these students are not the population that would normally make up my typical audience, and hopefully I am about to find out why!

Why artist AND starving?

The Poor Poet by Carl Spitzweg

The myth of the starving artist is compelling and romantic. In this culture, we seem to reserve the greatest level of admiration for those creative characters who live in a disheveled apartment in NY, typing away on an old type writer, living on coffee and crackers, and the passion for their art. These are the geniuses of the generation who, unfortunately, often only get discovered after they are dying of syphilis, or have already passed. We mourn at their sad state. We wonder, “why did no one help this poor soul while he was alive?”.

But we often don’t help them and this is why. History has taught us to believe that without that suffering, the artists would not have created such profound work. A larger proportion of musicians, artists, writers and dancers historically have had abusive childhoods, chronic physical illness, mental troubles and abject poverty, persuading us to fear that if things were a little easier for them, we might miss out on something like Beethoven’s Helige Dankegesang, Mozart’s Requiem, or Van Gogh’s Starry Night.

Starry Night

To make matters worse, we artists ourselves unwittingly perpetuate our own misery and the “starving artist myth” by measuring our level of devotion in terms of what we sacrifice for our work.

Being raised in a cash strapped family with four siblings, I had the experience of needing to sacrifice the luxuries of life, and I felt the limitations imposed by a lack of money. I watched my friends travel on field trips to Peru, order from the J.Crew catalog, while I wore hand me downs and chipped in with house work and baby-sitting jobs.

I became skilled at making do with less, and in adulthood survived on very little income. The starving artist myth fit me like a glove.

Recently, in a heated debate with some fellow artists about financial needs, I was accused by one of my friends of being selfish and defiling my art by mixing it with financial concerns, that art was bigger than all of this mundane stuff. On some level I certainly agreed with him, and this realization motivated a penetrating self inquiry.

As one living inside of the creative process, and being the one with the gifts, I have always felt that I am, in a sense, an ambassador for the divine. My musical gifts, are just that, a gift, one that I have been given the mandate to share with my fellow humans. My ability to hold my suffering, and therefore the suffering of my companions, in compassion, is a part of that gift. Thus, the calling to make music is one that transcends the ego structures of my personal daily life.

Such a mandate of the soul has no limits. Just as a loving parent will stay up long hours with a sick child, not expecting a reward, so to, an artist will devote a life time of exploring their craft and expression, regardless of financial support. It is a calling and a mission that can bear similarity to a spiritual devotion. And this is the crux of the situation: there is no way to place a financial value on something that we would do no matter what. It is priceless in the sense that it does not operate in the same value system as an exchange of goods and labor does. Because of this, when it comes time to “sell” our work, no price is too high or too low. Because it does not come with a price tag.

Add to this confounding situation the fact that we creative souls are our own worst critics. The natural result of a life long committment to a creative process is a sense that we have never arrived at a finished product. We are also reticent to ask for financial reward for our work, because we feel it could reflect on the value or lack of value of our artistry.

Since artists seem to bear all the trappings of a spiritual disciple, then it is no surprise that we are living out the myth of the martyr, given the predominating religious paradigm in our culture of Christianity.

I reached my crisis point a few years ago, when, after pouring everything that I had, body, soul, money, time, energy, husband, parents, scholarship, loans into cello, I found myself making $8 an hour playing in a symphony and doing the work of a full time professor with a half time adjunct salary of $20,000 per year before taxes. My husband and I were living on the elk meat his father had shot, racking up credit card debt for groceries, and waking up at night to drunken college students fighting in the yard of our small rented apartment.

And I was one of the lucky seven cellists in the entire country who landed an academic teaching job that year.

I barely had time for practicing, and the performing that I was doing was not fulfilling me artistically. I was living the starving artist myth, without the artist part. It became clear that if something didn’t change I would be incapable of giving my music to the world. That, contrary to the myth, “starving” and “artist” are not good companions. And so I had to sacrifice the hardest thing of all, my pride and my beliefs about money and art, and begin fund raising, and asking for appropriate compensation for my work.

With the very survival of my creative life at stake because of finances, I came to the realization that while I could never place a value on my music I could allow the world to support me to survive, to eat, to put a roof over my head, so that I could continue to be a vessel for this beautiful gift of music that moves through me. Breaking all my own rules, and some conventions of society as well, I began to have the courage to ask for the financial compensation and support from the community around me.

Which brings me to another myth in our culture. That of the diva. The radiant and talented artist, embodying the best of humanity, admired, beloved and richly cared for. This image was so beautifully expressed in the sparkling Buddha’s in Thailand, and I know that it was while kneeling in the Temple in Bangkok in May of 2009 that I let go at last of the martyr paradigm, a paradigm that, despite not being a practicing Christian, had a firm hold on my life. I began to see that I could serve my purpose in the world, not through suffering and sacrifice, but through thriving, abundance and joy.

Phra Phuttha Chinnarat

I have a gratitude for my hardships, for the understanding that these experiences have given me. I feel capable of expressing the human emotion that lies beneath the black squiggles on the page. As for financial hardship, by not being raised to expect money easily, I have learned both the value of money, but finally, to not be bound by my financial circumstances. But there are other ways to learn and contribute to the world than through ones suffering, and I while I have no illusions that mt life will ever be a breeze, certainly attachment to suffering as a form of spiritual devotion may help ease the burden some.

At 17 I was one of the chosen few from around the world to attend the Tanglewood Institute for the summer. My father had just lost his job because of the recession, and my family was on the brink of bankruptcy. with my mothers support, I wrote letters to relatives and family friends, played concerts, even put an advertisement in the paper. At the age of 17 I raised $3,000. At Tanglewood I played along side of children of NY Metropolitan Opera players, or wealthy Harvard-bound korean-Americans .I had master classes with Yo Yo Ma, and Neikrug and performed some of the great orchestral repertoire. But the story of how I got to Tanglewood was almost more miraculous than attending the festival.

The same holds true today. To accomplish an endeavor that requires the support of many individuals, I learn that one way that I can show my devotion to music is by accepting that, as a performer, I have only one part to play in the creation of music, even if a crucial one. Art is indeed greater than what I can accomplish alone, and I can serve it best by remembering that, aside from some very meaningful individual creative contributions, I am the vessel, and not the substance in the vessel. To ask for support to build a strong and sturdy vessel for this purpose is neither entitled nor selfish, but rather humbling. Is this not the ultimate and most profound sacrifice, to devote our entire lives to something that we cannot fully possess or own?

In accepting support of a larger community, I am relinquishing the martyred artist myth, as well as releasing my iron grip of possessiveness on music. I am accepting that it takes a community to raise a child, and to bring beautiful music into this world. I am happy with the role that I get to play, though. Being the communicator for something so magnificent and complex requires hours of hard practice. But in the midst of the surrender and passion of performance I get to transcend the narrow confines of my own life, and for a moment, sparkle and shimmer with a certain diva light.

“You may still gain the whole world and not lose your own soul”

“I am told that when grapevines were first cultivated in California the vineyard masters used to try the experiment of importing plants from France or Italy and setting them in their own soil. The result was that the grapes acquired a peculiar individual flavor, so strong was the influence of the soil in which they were planted. I think I need hardly draw the moral of this, namely, that if the roots of your art are firmly planted in your own soil and that soil has anything individual to give you, you may still gain the whole world and not lose your own soul.”

Ralph Vaughan Williams


I am not sure why it is that certain composers have the ability to reach so deeply into our hearts, or why they feel more compatible with our intrinsic musicality, but Vaughan Williams holds that place for me. The last time I performed the Six Studies in English Folk Song, my pianist, one who almost never doles out compliments, turned to me in a rehearsal and with wide eyes remarked that this piece matched my voice closely and beautifully.

As a doctoral student, when I began to dig into the lives and backgrounds of our composers, I discovered that Vaughan Williams and I had a lot in common. An earthy yet dreamy pastoral coloring in his music reflects his love for Folk music. He was also a late bloomer, and carried a hefty dose of self-doubt about his musical abilities. I suppose it also helps that a significant portion of my ancestors come from the British Isles.

But not everyone likes Vaughan Williams. People seem to fall strongly in favor for or against his music, which is ironic, considering the fairly delicate and sweet nature of his style. My Mom, for one, can’t stand the Lark Ascending, she feels as if he wanders around too much and never gets anywhere. I suppose that is exactly what I love about it.

As I am practicing for my CD and revisiting the Six Studies, I am struck by how incredibly challenging it is to play with the warm and simple beauty that the piece demands. The pure and transparent song texture leaves no possibility to cover up intonation mistakes with wild vibrato, and the sound needs a richness that can never indulge in romantic lushness.

I think it is easy to overlook this type of work as simplistic and easy, both to compose and perform, but it is just the opposite. Maintaining the purity and innocence of folk character, yet projecting subtle uniqueness inside of that character is what makes this music so profound and powerful.

Every now and then I have one of those days when I feel like my world is crumbling around me, and nothing makes any sense. That is when my husband puts on Vaughan Williams, specifically the recording of St Martin-in-the-Fields playing Dives and Lazurus. As a teenager, when I had boy trouble, I would call my friends, but I also used to lie on my bed and weep to the strains of The Lark Ascending.

It is such an honor to have the opportunity to perform and record this work. It is comforting to know that no matter how lonely and frightening my journey may be, there will always be the gentle voice of Vaughan Williams to call me back home.

In the tribal society of musicians, lineage is everything


A mentor of mine recently helped me to navigate some nasty academic politics by explaining to me that musicians are very tribal. It took some thought to understand what he said, but then it dawned on me. People build fierce loyalties and band together in the face of an extreme threat to their survival. Unlike early hominids who ganged up on large game, the enemies we face are those of intimidation, jealousy, even slander from people who sense our presence as a threat to their place of superiority, or a threat to their survival. In a field that brings success only to those whose skill is given a seal of approval by someone who has been deemed an expert, we can become neurotically focused on what others think, and belonging to a tribe that will bring us honor, but more importantly protection.

I don’t think that it is a stretch to guess that the deep seated fear in most musicians is that of public humiliation and excommunication from the tribe. Much effort is spent in determining who has the right to make these distinctions, and gaining their approval. We ask ourselves “when am I a member of this tribe safely? when will I ever be free of the threat of someone calling me out as incompetent, or a fake?”If fear is the underlying motivation for mastery and practicing, the answer to these questions must be never. And there is the rub. We are a tribe that values excellence and so these checks on each other serve a positive purpose of maintaining a legacy of high skill that we have been given the task of carrying forward to the next generation. Excruciating initiation rites, such as auditions and doctoral exams, select for persistence and strength of character.

I recently decided I was done with this. I decided that it was between myself and the composer, and that after 26 years of lessons, a doctorate, a position at a University, and an inner artistic conviction that was tired of being ignored, it was time to be my own boss. I trusted myself to have enough integrity that fear no longer needed to be my motivator, and that I was strong enough to stand behind what I did 100% and take responsibility for my faults. The results were amazing. I felt liberated and impassioned. My music flowed out of me in a more powerful way than ever before. People were moved to tears. Nothing mattered to me except communicating with my audience with the most intention, articulateness and passion that I was capable of. I performed my first solo concerto with an orchestra, and felt as if I had found my way home.

Now the stakes are higher. I am planning to release my first CD, to put myself out there more, but I am not sure what will happen with the fear of the rest of the tribe and their leaders. Will my playing be overlooked because I am not the sole chosen protege of some great cellistic tribal legacy? For sure my lineage is great-leading back to amazing pedagogues and players like Aldo Perisot, Neikrug, Feuermann, Klengal, Magg and Casals. But I messed up on the whole master/apprentice deal. First if all because I am a woman. Secondly because I moved through teachers after a few years, and gathered a bouquet of techniques, rather than belonging solidly to one lineage that I could build a firm allegiance to. Not to mention the lack of a major concerto competition win. I don’t hold a position in a major symphony, my parents weren’t famous musicians, and I am not particularly young for a performing artist. So who the hell is this girl anyway, and why should we listen to her? I just don’t look like most of the cellists out there who are making it. A creative entrepreneur-yes. But where is my tribe?

Recently one of my most talented student won the concerto competition at the University. I watched how her reputation among her peers changed over night, and suddenly she was a somebody.
She was the same strong player that she was before, but now there was PROOF, because the judges said so. Suddenly there was a possibility that wasn’t there before of people recognizing her unique talent. Do I need some seal of approval by a critic or famous cellist, or are my credentials and skills enough?

If I do need that seal of approval, how do I get it when it isn’t what I really care about? The truth is that there is no going back for me. All that truly matters to me now is that I believe in what I am doing and that people enjoy hearing me play-and honoring the composer’s intentions, of course.

I feel like that tribal member that wanders off into the forest alone to listen to the sounds of the birds. I used to belong to a tribe, but beauty and conversation with the universe rather than power took me away.

It didn’t used to be this way. I used to do everything right, I used to do everything my teachers said, I used to internalize all the judgment that came my way, (easy when you carry allot of shame), and never listened to my own deep artistic convictions. But this way ran out of steam. I got to the end, I had massive amounts of technique, I got a Doctorate of Musical Arts, was one of the top in my class, I got a university job. And then…..meaningless, empty, who am I? I was really lost.

I landed in another village. The wilds of Montana. I never truly belonged here, but the people are loving and kind, and treat everyone very equally, regardless of talent. It has been, for the most part, a safe haven for me to find my voice. I quickly earned respect and community support.

But I can’t stop thinking about that first tribe, the one I sought to please. Not to please them anymore, but to belong. To find that middle ground. I am wondering, where is that village I walked away from, and can I find my way back? Should I find my way back?

If I walked back there singing, would they welcome me? Or see me as a musician gone feral, and keep their distance? I know that I am the same either way, and my soul is at last healthy and alive, but tribal membership is important for physical survival, and the Montana tribe is not my true family, though certain friends will be mine for life.

Perhaps the more important question I should be asking myself is WHO is my tribe? Maybe they are a network of people not belonging to one legacy or geographic location, and I will recognize them when they close their eyes, listen to my music, smile, and then welcome me into their village. This is not the simple and concrete membership that quells a musician’s fears. But I will take this risk with the freedom that comes with it.

The forest is beautifully luminous and still. And I will never give it up again.

A picture is worth a thousand…..

Take no prisoner

Take no prisoner

Words and music, two of my favorite mediums of expression both enter our experience less directly than an image. Since first impressions can bias a person strongly, I am fully aware that the choice I make for a CD cover could have a major impact on how people listen to my music, think about my artistry, or even whether or not to buy my CD.  Before looking at my options I would like to digress for a moment.

As an Oberlin student in my early twenties my friend Natalie had an assignment for her photography class that led to several hours of us having a fun time, her shooting away and me posing with my cello. The results of her work was a series of compelling images, as well as some images that I have hidden in a very secret place so that no ne will ever find them! Natalie’s class mates critiqued her work. Her artistry was overlooked, because the students were distracted by the fact that the body of her subject was conventionally thin and beautiful, and obsessed with a man made object, a cello. Later, I thought I would try this out in my women studies class and used one of my favorite photos on a paper about image analysis. Interestingly, and very telling, the image received the same criticism from my professor as it had from Natalie’s classmates. In both instances, my beauty had me victimized and not worthy of artistic assessment. You have to love Oberlin!
(Actually I DID love Oberlin, but there were some interesting moments).  At the time I insisted that the image was empowering, showing that a woman could be both beautiful and skilled. Today, when I look at the photograph, I see an embryonic  character to my posture, that aptly reflects my barely budding musicianship. With eyes closed, wrapped around the cello, there is also a sense that this instrument is a lifeline,  a somewhat narcissistic reflection of my beauty that kept me intact. Also very true.

Skip ahead to 2010. As an artist, I no longer confuse my public image with my identity, yet crave enough authenticity in what I present that my integrity remains intact. It becomes a question rather of which aspect of my creativity and self will I reflect at any given moment, a choice that I have to make in each piece that I play, and even in each section of each piece. As a musical actress I can relate to each character, but  also do not mistake any as being solely me.

So here we are with my dilemma. As a debut album I would love to give an impression of coming out of my shell, a powerful musician ready for any success that may come her way. From this perspective the sitting down image with hair blowing does the job well. From a playful creative perspective, and in keeping with the Dance aspect of the title of the Cd, I like the movement and grace of the image with the cello apart from my body. But let’s face it, I look a little dorky, and silly. Finally, the third image, a coy sort of look, a touch of red, an almost gypsy-like mystique…this one has my attention. So the tie really is between the first and third image.

Perhaps it is my Oberlin education, but I can’t help but wonder: is the first image too masculine, too much of a woman who has become hardened and tough to get ahead? Or is her masculinity a sign of empowerment, that she has gone beyond the bounds of her upbringing and can embrace all aspects of herself? The second image is more indirect, and thus more conventionally feminine. Am I hiding my true power here? Am I pulling my punches? Or is the subtlety of this image speaking to the uniquely feminine type of power that women wield, embracing the delicacy of our tenacity and gentle strength? The whole gender issue aside, what about simply considering the theme of the CD. Wouldn’t the image with the scarf reflect a more folk or ethnic type character.

In a nutshell, which is the more important event here, the theme of the CD, or this being my debut? Does empowered diva self, or artistically authentic character win the day?

The image that I choose could be worth a thousand dollars.Picture-1Picture-2

A forgotten gem

Swimming last week in the murky waters of mechanical rights, and royalties, I began to lose sight of the meaning of all of this. But today, as I was practicing and some of the chords of this magnificent Zarabande fell into place, and this piece that I have never heard before, and is, in fact out of print, and forgotten, came alive from the page under my finger tips, I remembered.

Suddenly I knew I had to call that publisher one more time, twenty more times if needed to get the recording rights. Because, somewhere, about 100 years ago, a Spanish composer penned a short but breathtaking movement for unaccompanied cello, with an eloquent and graceful nod to Bach, but chordal harmonies with Flamenco guitar dissonance and color.

It is amazing to me how powerful music is at capturing our imagination. When I roll the chords, and feel the vibration of the sevenths, I can almost feel the pain of love lost in Madrid, wandering the cobblestone streets looking for that person who shared that timeless moment of embrace.

There are so many layers to “classical music”. It is a vivid and complex art. This dance form, the Sarabande or Zarabande,, reaches far back into time and cuts across cultures. So here I am, an American woman, in 2010, feeling the slow 1,2,3 that people in Spain danced hundreds of years ago. People fell in love to this dance, gossiped and perhaps died to these poignant strains. Thank-you quiet soldier of history, and all other composers who have the courage to straddle that delicate balance between tradition and invention, connecting the past and the future to create a no longer forgotten gem.

CD baby blog

So it is officially nine months more or less until my CD release. This truly being my music baby, I have decided to continue on this analogy of being pregnant. Of course, I know what you mothers out there may be thinking, and I apologize in advance if I offend. But I believe that as women we express our creativity in an interesting way in everything that we commit our lives to, whether it be a human baby or a music baby.

So, as I did for my Asia trip, I would like to share my experience of this process of producing a CD, and am now committing to writing in my blog several times per week. My husband thinks that pictures would make the whole think much better. So I will do my best to find something visually interesting to post.

My husband and I watched Julie and Julia last night, and it was inspiring-because cooking and writing are two of my favorite hobbies!

Although  I do feel like I am making creative faces in the mirror sometimes, so if you have thoughts, please share them.

Well, thats it for now.

My music baby

I had many people warn be about being a musician. It seems that even my first cello lessons came with this clause, “don’t do what I am doing for a living, you will regret it”. And so I continued with warning after warning following this deep conviction that cello has to be a major part of my life. And that, my friends is how an artist is created. By ignoring all the conventions and warnings of society and doing what our creative self desires, that is an artist. Built into this is the unspoken dictate that “To thine own self be true” no matter what, is part of our job.

Perhaps the artists role in society is to stay connected to that soul, that so many other in their acceptance of what society deems important, and rewards them for, have forgotten or buried. And then the real rub is we are here carrying these forgotten gems, carrying them for the enrichment of the culture and sometimes without any real gratitude or financial reward.

Then people turn around and think the artists is some kind of selfish, idealistic creature for wanting to “do what they love” for a living.

As if we had any choice. As if this urge to create were any less powerful than the urge to procreate or survive.

And so this tender gift of creation, music, art, song, dance, poetry that flows out from some deep place is not only some enviable talent that gives us artists a life”doing what we love” but also an infant screaming to be fed, bathed, held, loved and nurtured. And without the support a new mother hopefully usually receives. It isn’t as if we flow around in silken robes painting in some half trance state while the world throws us money. Well, most of us, that is. The hard work of the business end of art is relentless. After 10,000 minimum that it takes to master an instrument, it takes 10,000 hours more to even begin to create a career.

If only I could throw a baby shower. Invite all my friends and family and get gifts. People could hand down their used music, like baby clothes, pass on advice about the first few years.
I look at my female friends who have had children. I envy how easy they gather support. And when the baby comes, everyone oooohs and ahhhhs and everyone wants to hold him/her.

What if these woman has to fund raise to pay for their hospital bills. What if they had to first convince everyone that yes, having a baby is a good thing, a valuable thing. What if they had to work at helping people understand their baby, why they felt they needed to have it, why they felt the urge to bring this being into existence?

If I am a young mother with my music, than I am a ghetto mother. Fighting for the very survival of what I cherish, against all odds, and without the over all support of a culture. How can I change this? How can I gather support around me? How can I not be at odds with a culture that places such a low value on my baby? And how can I not be bitter when all I have know is hard work with little reward? How can I stay open and connected to beauty, when the challenges of my profession require such strength, courage and hardness?
It is no wonder that the drop out rate is so high in my profession. And the rate even higher for those who have survived but have lost their soul in the process, become nasty, mean and competitive pimps and whores, territorial and bitter. And then that is the legacy we pass on to the next generation.

I vow to do everything in my power to stay centered in my passion and love as I move forward. I am grateful for the support I have been given and hope that more will come.

Please forgive me if I am angry, bitter and hopeless at times.

And when my CD child is born, I hope everyone will celebrate with me.

Can I really do it all?

So I should warn you-this is not going to be a happy watch me fly kind of posting because today I am running around like a chicken with my head caught off trying to manage the millions of aspects of being a musician, performer, professor, record label, entrepreneur etc etc. After spending all morning on teh phone trying to figure out if mechanical rights need to be gotten for specific editions of a work, or just the original work, and then through some convoluted channel finally getting a human being on the phone. Applying for mechanical rights, fund raise, plan concerts, plan classes, order music, update my website, arrange lessons, teach lessons, send thank-yous for contributions and yes, write this blog, I suddenly realized that I could do this all day and NEVER play one note of the cello. So I sat down to practice and my mind was racing…thinking, “how great is this movement REALLY, maybe I should cut it, that is five minutes less, which means $91 less from my budget for mechanical rights, but then again, maybe I could raise that money since I have those friends back in Boston……. Then my over fed holiday belly starts hollering at me because I ate a FULL hour ago and have not had a cookie in a whole week, and my dog is looking at me, wondering when we will get that walk I promised her, my husband is pacing because he has been sick all week and wants to go to his studio. And I have now gotten approximately 15 minutes of cello under my fingers.
So, without further ado, please send me millions of dollars so that I can hire a manager and go practice.
Meanwhile. this is it for my silly blog entry. I WILL go practice now.