At least this misery is improving my German

At least this misery is improving my German


norman lebrecht

October 15, 2017

Our diarist Anthea Kreston is struggling to get back to full speed.


Adore Everything. That is what I heard the other day in an interview on NPR of the actor Jeffrey Tambor – an actor I love for his roles in Arrested Development and Transparent. He was being asked what the best piece of advice he could offer – and he said just that, “Adore Everything”. It is vague yet powerful – don’t worry about what the future may bring, what your goals or destiny may be – adore your path, take your happiness with you – it doesn’t depend on what you are doing, but rather how you are doing what you are doing.

I am actually doing rather shitty these days. I feel better, rehearse a bit, have some German tutor sessions, then I crash again. I can barely walk, can only drive for short distances, and forget about sitting. It is only standing or lying down for me. This procedure I had is taking it’s sweet time on the recovery path, and it is really really hard to adore it. They think my cyst may have been infected for years, and that is why my recovery will take longer. I am a little depressed, for sure, but not too – my daughters hang out with me in bed and we color and read books and stuff. And I practice lying down. And my German is improving. But I walk slowly and painfully, and I can’t do a lot of stuff that I was taking for granted, and can’t do stuff that I really think I need to be doing.

I meant to write about Intonation today, and although it is a really cool topic, it just wasn’t floating my boat. Maybe next time. For some reason (probably because it is recommendation writing time of the year) I have been in touch with a lot of old students and friends. And I do Adore All of Them. Some have “made it” in the music world – some as alternative violinists – heavy metal Irish, Grapelli, traditional folk – some in orchestras or chamber groups – some as public school music teachers, wedding music planners. Some are in business, the Peace Corps, teaching English in exotic locations, biologists, actors, mechanics, cashiers, delivery boys.

My friend, who just had a baby, told me I should watch TV so I would stay in bed. She suggested the Handmaids Tale – just what I need for a quick pick-me-up – a dystopian future based on female sexual slavery. I read the book many years ago and it is something that you can never shake. Like 1984 or The Jungle. But anyway, I tried it. And you will never guess what – in episode 7, there is a young woman who is a freedom fighter – she saves a man and is as good with inserting a catheter as with a gun. And guess what – there she is, my old violin student – and she was amazing! The star of the episode – they should hear her play a Bach fugue! Spectacular. Go Rosa Gillmore!

So here is some more advice from Jeffrey Tambor – and these tidbits work amazingly well for musicians.

1- “Learn to love destruction” I always tell my students to not fear ugly sounds – to get better you have to fight through the badness – if you avoid it and make everything pretty you will stay stuck in your teeny box.

2- “Don’t be afraid of being afraid” When you are scared, it means you are in a new place, but that is ok – accept your fear and know it comes from loving what you are doing.

3- “Come to rehearsal with a sense of play” This is essential. I once asked one of the Emerson’s how they had stayed together so long, and he said sense of humor. Goof around, disintegrate tension, keep light.

4- “Be open” Good, satisfying musical experiences are filled with confidence – and the only way to be confident is to be open, and to know what you want – then you can grab it with both hands and just do it.

5- “Take your personal losses out in your art” We all lose something or someone. Take that loss and use it – it is one of our biggest gifts – bring your whole life to your music, and the things you lost will be found again.

And also, of course, Adore Everything.


  • fierywoman says:

    I adore reading your diaries! Forza, coraggio! and love.

  • very nice post!! Have a good recovery and greeting to my friend Gregor Sigl!!!

  • Bruce says:

    Even more inspiring than usual. Thank you.

    You’ll be seeing the silver lining to this episode for a long time: “oh yes, this is something I had time to thinkk about a lot when I was laid up for all those weeks in 2017.”

    The version I had heard was “Don’t say ‘no,’ don’t say ‘yes, but.’ Say ‘yes, and‘ [to everything].” It can be hard but it makes life much more of an adventure (and much less of an ordeal). As one aspiring actor I read about phrased it, “I used to think ‘oh, this is terrible.’ Now I think ‘Oh man, I am totally putting this in my memoir.’ “

  • ChiLynne says:

    I’m concerned about your recovery. Could it possibly be appropriate to seek another opinion? Don’t know if that’s a possibility. Wishing you all the best. STRENGTH!

    • Meal says:

      Agreed. I do not want to speculate on health issues. We do not know the full story. Therefore, the only thing I can say is: If she has any doubt she should seek a second opinion. I assume that she has public (or private) German health insurance. If so, in general there is no problem to get a second opinion. Just to be sure, reconfirm with the insurance company. Anyhow, I am quite sure that there are people around in the music scene of Berlin with good connections to specialists which may be happy to help her. Wishing all the best!

  • Jaime Herrera says:

    I could not place the name (Anthea Kreston) until I remembered the Artemis Quartet. Now I know. (That quartet is bad luck.) Heifetz could not practice when he was in the hospital –
    I don’t think he minded at all. Try reading the Magic Strings of Frankie Presto – that will cheer you up for sure. Best wishes!!!!

  • Went for a checkup and all looking good. I am seeing a turnaround and with some good luck will be up and about in 2 weeks. Thanks for your thoughts!

  • ChiLynne says:

    RELIEVED to hear! All good wishes.

  • Marg says:

    Sorry Im late again Anthea … I have to go hunting for your post when I think its about a week since I read the last one, as somehow I cant get on the daily list. Bummer. Anyhow, hope you are feeling better. A lot of what you say is akin to mindfulness practice – being present to the good, the bad, the ugly. Easy to say, hard to do, but transforming if you can! I like the last few pointers especially – going to pass them on.