If you squeeze time, does juice come out of it?

Seemingly out of nowhere, my schedule tends to fill up dramatically with very little notice.

I plan out stretches of time in which to work on music and they get slowly eaten into by family commitments, favours for people, bureaucracy, little jobs here and there, and bits and bobs which all seem harmless and are all rewarding and worthwhile in their own ways. The cumulative result, however, is that I’m left with no time to practice and also not enough time to rest and get my head in order. Of course I’m grateful not to be working 9 – 5 in some job that bores me, and I wouldn’t change my musical life for anything in the world… but these are the frustrations of a creative person. Finding that balance between the right amount of distraction and stimulation that feeds your creativity, and actually getting the time to exercise your creativity and DO SOMETHING.

Maybe it’s because I was an only child growing up, but I’ve always needed time on my own to recharge. Some people like to go out to bars with their friends or watch TV – for me, being in a quiet, preferably dark room by myself, possibly writing a random stream of stuff in a diary just to get it out of my brain and free up some space, is the best way to get my energy back to where my brain can function well enough to cope with the demands of whatever it is I’m trying to do at the moment. And while practicing is in itself calming for me – I’m a royal bitch if I don’t get to play violin enough, it’s a bit like people who are used to lots of exercise and then being prevented from it – I need a certain amount of mental space before I can be capable of doing any useful work. I don’t care to just “put in the time”, going through the motions, banging out scales or flying through some piece. Playing too much always seems to be detrimental to my technique and body and reflexes, so when I practice, I do whatever I can to really make it count so that in the end, everything I’m doing on the violin is contributing to overall improvement.

Right now I’ve got information overload and commitment overload.

All I want to do is practice!! And catch up on sleep!

I’ve got so much music that I need to work on. On March 25th, Izumi Kimura and I are playing a concert in honour of Bartok’s 130th birthday in the John Field Room, NCH. We’re playing Bartok’s 2nd sonata for violin & piano, the 6 Romanian Dances, and a new piece, Nagyszentmiklos, by Ronan Guilfoyle. On April 2nd I’m playing Bartok Solo Sonata at the Festival Under The Clock, in advance of recording it at the end of April; finally – after trying to make it happen for about ten years! I’m also recording the Ravel Duo for violin & cello with Kate Ellis. I’m so happy to have this music to feed my soul but these commitments mean I truly have to be at the very top of my game as a player – essentially, I’m coming up to tournament season. There’s other stuff to work on too, other things coming up after that, but those are the main diamonds in the tiara.

After next week, ish, I’ll have a much freeer schedule, in that my main commitment will be practicing, and working on the Hope Concerto. But I’m a little frustrated and sad because that was pretty much what this time was meant to be anyway. Between my loyalty to old friends in musical need, and my own rather pressing need for financial sustenance, what with anyone able to pay on time being on the endangered species list these days, I’ve let my precious work time be trampled on. I really hope I can hold on to as much practice time as possible in the coming weeks. And hell, write the odd blog while I’m at it.

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