by Jennifer Bogart, Violinist
I once had a good friend that said that music would never let him down, but he quite often let music down. When I was a teenager I found that when I was upset I could practice something and the anger/upset/hurt/sadness would be less. I wish it were so easy these days! While it is true that music will never let me down, I am finding less and less time to practice because I have more obligations.
I am a divorced mom with two demanding boys (and all the chaos that goes with a teen and an 8 year old). I am a free-lancer so I constantly need to remind people I am available for jobs or find students or teach the students I do have (sometimes as few as 13 which is not so great for my income but helps me manage my time, and sometimes as many as 21 which is great for my income but horrible for school projects and time with my kids) or try new avenues for earning money.
This year was a particularly hard one. My partner of 5 years broke his arm, and then I got a systemic staph infection which took 6 weeks of antibiotics to cure. During the time I was sick I had 2 solo concerts I needed to perform plus a week of subbing with the symphony. I got through it all and though I wish I had a little more energy to prepare for my concerts they came off well. I was very proud of dragging myself out of bed and pushing myself to play even though my doctor wanted me to rest. Perhaps I should have stayed in bed, but the music was something I really wanted to share with people who otherwise would not have a chance to hear it live.
More recently I have dealt with my car breaking down and being without one for 6 weeks; my partner going into the emergency room with a persistent cough and ending up staying for 10 days in order to have a lung biopsy (not a little needle, in case you are curious . . . three huge scars and lots of recovery time); my teenager getting an F for the semester because he never handed his homework in or forgot to write it down; and my mom coming to visit for an extended stay.
I need to play something! I need to physically get out my violin and forget myself in something like the Sibelius violin concerto or some solo Bach. Unfortunately I face a week of slogging through Kreutzer and Rode and Dont (do) and scales in thirds and octaves very slowly so I can remember how to play in tune again…for that matter, so I can remember how to hold the violin up. The important thing to remember, and the reason I am writing this, is that even this prospect is cheering me up because I know that once I get through the grind for a week (possibly two) I will still have the music to depend on for my solace.
The point is that the physical act of playing no matter what your level can take your mind away from the ailments of living life on Earth and can expand the joys of our existence here. You may (as I often do) find yourself not able to express what you want or not able to handle the technical difficulties of the music, but the music itself is there waiting for you to catch up to it. It will never go away, and once you find the wherewithal to play it, it will never leave you short of happiness. So find the time. It only takes 3 minutes to get your instrument out of the case.
Take it out and play 10 minutes worth of scales and then try the Winter portion of the Four Seasons, or the first page of the Tchaikovsky Concerto. Spend 10 minutes warming up and 5 minutes playing your heart out. Play part of your favorite symphony with the CD you have. Get some friends together and play duets or quartets. I guarantee that whatever was bothering you will be a little bit less in the forefront of your mind and you will have the memory of your music making to help you through another day.
Jennifer Bogart received her Masters, Bachelors and Performers Certificate from Eastman School of Music. She was appointed Assistant Professor of Violin and Viola at Stetson University in DeLand Florida in 1983 where she stayed until she was appointed to the first violin section of the Florida Symphony Orchestra in Orlando in 1989. In 1993 she moved to Virginia to teach at the Renaissance Music Academy and then with her husband moved to Utah in 1994. Since being in Utah she has been a full time violinist in the Utah Symphony Orchestra, a member of the Utah Ballet Orchestra, a featured regular on the Nova, Park City and Contemporary Music chamber ensembles, and a member of a Celtic/Rock band known as
Callanish. Jennifer is currently accepting students in Salt Lake City, UT and can be reached through