Pour l’Amour de Musique


I thought I had squelched music after undergrad.  Not squelched it in the sense that I never wanted it in my life anymore, mind you–but squelched in the sense that I thought I was through that part of my life where I needed music in order to breathe and be whole.

This is clearly not the case.

It has become even more apparent in the last few weeks before starting my doctoral program, and now the most prevalent after I’ve finished my first week of classes: I can’t stop thinking about music.  It’s the first thing I think of when I wake up and the last thing I think of before going to sleep.  If this is where my spirit lies, then I picked the wrong doc program.  Shocking, I know…I’ve spent my entire musical life trying to run away from it in one way or another.  Unfortunately (or fortunately), it has caught up with me and attached itself to my soul.

My mom likes to tell the story of when I was a junior in high school and decided that though it was incredibly icy out, I was going to drive to school.  She said, “you aren’t driving, it’s icy outside.  I will drive you!”  Well, I got upset and walked out, slamming the front door on my way.  It was incredibly icy outside.  I slid off the porch steps and flew partway down the hill in our yard, only being stopped by my shoulder slamming into a tree.  Yes, it hurt.  Did I tell her?  No, not until six months later it  still hurt.  She took me to the doctor and I ended up having torn my entire rotator cuff and had to have it reconstructed.  That means surgery plus four to six months of rehab.  Mom likes to refer to that as the “it’s icy outside” moment, and often brings it up.  Why?  Because every time she tells me something that I don’t pay attention to and then she turns out to be right (which is most of the time), all she has to say to me is, “Lauren, it’s icy outside.”

Music is no different.  I told her today about thinking about going back to music and she replied with, “Lauren…it’s icy outside.”  Why is this?  Because she has told me ever since I was about 10 that I was destined to be in a musical field.  Yes mom, I know, you’re right again.  That being said, it’s not going to be in the realm of piano performance, like most of you would expect.  My performance anxiety is too high to put that kind of stress on my body all the time.  Do I know the specific field I want to pursue?  Not really.  Ethnomusicology, theory, composition…I pretty much want them all.  Honestly, it doesn’t matter to me, so long as it’s music (though most of you also know that I’m somewhat obsessed with theory).

I know at least one person, maybe two, who will appreciate the on-paper (and possibly aural, as well) beauty of the works that are George Crumb’s Makrokosmos.  This is the kind of stuff that makes me excited.  This is the stuff about which I’m passionate.

So many possibilities within so few tiny black dots.

I guess a decision needs to be made.





About Lauren C-B

I live in Santa Fe, NM, with my husband, JR, and our adopted chihuahua, Vigo. I enjoy playing piano, reading, making Schoenbergian matrices, hiking, swimming, horses, playing EverQuest, and yoga. After living the first 30 years of my life in the midwest, the southwest is now a VERY welcomed change!

4 responses »

  1. Dear Lauren:

    In undergrad, a classmate (trumpet major, jazz) was approached by another student who asked him, “Why music?” Without hesitation, the trumpeter replied, “What else is there?” I commented, “Perfect.”

    For some of us, it as if something bit us, left something in our bloodstream which will never leave. That ‘biter’ will never let go, rather like a Jewish mother, a Catholic mother, or a pit bull:-)

    I never consciously thought of any career, in restrospect realizing music had been such a presence since childhood (similar start and progress to yours) and that was why i had not consciously thought of music ~ or anything else ~ as ‘career.’

    Years later, in some late middle-age depression or something I have yet to explain to myself, I had a (self-imposed, it seems) haitus of a good several years – no playing, no comping, a little listening. Perhaps I needed a break since I had been so fully engaged from six onward. It came to a point where it was clear to me if I did not get back to it, regardless of public, pupils, or any outside awareness of my being a musician, that I would ultimately find a heavy price paid in psychiatrists or (I believe ultimately) doctors, too: because it was as if a vital organ had ceased to function.

    With no further mental chatter or rationale, simply aware of a Feeling Great Need, I got back to it. Within one month, a gradually acquired posture slump of which I was until then unaware, was corrected by sitting at the piano and practicing anew — like a beginner at first — and sitting at the piano the only way I knew, properly, to access the instrument with the ease of range and movement required. The shoulders slowly went back to ‘square,’ my walk became more upright, aligned and “springier.” I began to feel better emotionally and physically in a somewhat dramatic climate shift from ‘where I had been’ for the previous dry years. My mind became quicker and once again “relatively” acute (how modest is that?)

    All this points to the fact some, like you, I believe, will just have to arrange for music to always be a part of your active life, whether public, private or even “anonymous.”
    This kind of engagement is perhaps another sort of health insurance for some:-)

    If it doesn’t let go and won’t allow for a divorce, you’re going to have to settle with it. It sounds like it is just not going to go away. Compared to all we could wish might go away, this is not at all a bad thing….

    fondly, Petr

  2. I had to chuckle at the story about it being icy outside. But I can totally relate to the whole running away from music and being drawn back to it again thing. For me, though, I will always need music to breathe. It’s whether I can continue making it and why that I struggle with so much.

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