I like my things to look lived in.
There’s a certain joy in cracking open a brand new book that no one has read before – but what a pleasure to return to a book that is an old friend and to see the dog-ears from where I paused before, to see the teardrops on the page, the stains. The smell of a well-loved book takes me back to who I was when I read it.
It’s exciting to get a new piece of music and begin to learn it, reading the notes on the page for the very first time. But when I return to a piece I’ve performed before, the corners of the paper are soft. There is pencil everywhere, telling me about my thought processes, my interpretations, my learning curve. The more times I’ve worked on the piece, the more I’ve overwritten my previous ideas. There’s inevitably a coffee stain on the page somewhere, and a cryptic marginal note about a rehearsal time or someone’s phone number.
I LOVE this.
My car bumpers are a little dinged up, my oboes are not that shiny, my clothes are soft. I have scratch-outs and unclean line work in my bullet journal. You might be getting the impression that I’m a big slob, which is not really the truth.
I guess I feel like objects that get the most use are the most loved, are the most REAL, in the Velveteen Rabbit sense. I don’t like having lots of things, but I love to use the things I have.
What’s my point here?
As advice, it’s USE your music. USE your pencil, really take good notes, explore. We are in this for the long haul. You’ll like having those notes next time around.
And in USING your music, you will find that you are DOING your music.
In isolation, it can feel hard to drag ourselves up off the couch and practice, but even if you are just playing through some old favorites – and re-exploring them with your pencil – by engaging with them you are bringing them back to life and THAT is a gift.
Let your music be REAL this week!