I recently saw a documentary about a school in Haiti (Serenade for Haiti)…the creation of it, the destruction (due to the horrific earthquake in 2010) and the rebuilding. There was a young boy featured…we saw him attending this school as a very young child and then into his teens. His quote towards the end of the film really grabbed my heart and held onto it. He said “I feel a great responsibility to pass on what I have learned to the younger students…it is my calling…I have to do it, or all the knowledge will die.” At the time of this quote he might have been…15? And I felt ashamed and at the same time…proud. Ashamed because I waited so long and proud because at least…now, I am doing it.
I am in my mid 50’s and have accrued an awful lot of information and knowledge about my craft and music in general. How many concerts have I performed? How many rehearsals have I attended? How much music have I played and listened to and studied? How many problems have I had to learn to solve? How much information lives in my brain and my heart? Time to pass it on.
And so here I am…in the city my soul took me to…starting a wonderful new life.
I live in New Orleans now. I have a Louisiana drivers license, I vote here, I eat too much, I have a beautiful house, fountains in my backyard, an outdoor cat that has adopted me…and I teach. I teach at Loyola University and anywhere else folks want me. It doesn’t matter really, as long as I can pass on my knowledge and inspire kids to play better than they think they can, to love the music they’re playing, to feel the joy of it all.
I have been a soloist my entire life. Soloists by nature have a different arsenal of experiences. We are not only musicians but warriors…because we have to be. There is too much stress and pressure…too many demands both physically and emotionally…too many sacrifices. We, very simply…know more. If that sounds unfair, so be it. It happens to be the truth. Now I imagine a world where every major soloist takes a year off from performing. Stop playing the same pieces over and over again, and start teaching them. Help a young player figure out how to make that shift, how to clean up that passage, how to convey the power of that movement. We have had to learn all of this and more…why not take a moment of your life, and pass it on. Can you imagine the number of students whose lives will be massively affected by this?
It’s the right thing to do. For me anyway.
I have to go to rehearsal now…my conductorless string orchestra is getting ready for our big fall performance. I hope that they feel secure and safe with the music we’re playing. And beyond that, I hope they feel the joy.