What Bruch does to our students in lockdownmain
An occasional diary from Anthea Kreston
For a while, I woke up every 45 minutes, checking the news, checking on the children and husband, organizing the pantry. Beans in one state or the other – soaking, boiling, burning, scraping off dishes. Naps during the day – some days so proud of myself – schoolwork completed, showers, fruit and ice cream. Happy children. Other days – the days when Jason and one of our girls were sick, the hallway blocked to stop the other daughter – delivering the food, taking the temperature, waiting on the health hotline for 4 hours. Tests came back inconclusive – they were basically unresponsive for 4 days – how am I supposed to create a normal life for the other child while I am desperate with worry over half of my family – I didn’t tell my friends or family – didn’t want to add to their worry – and I felt terribly alone and sick myself from uncertainty and lack of sleep. All is well, luckily. I can’t keep my mind on one thought for more than a fleeting moment. My friend just died of cancer. I planted tomatoes yesterday. I haven’t practiced in 6 weeks. Costco just delivered the groceries – I will spray them down and put them in the shed for 3 days. My daughter’s Country Report is due today and I just realized she has to make a Citations page.
I am one of the lucky ones. Jason and I have a huge studio of students, all online, and we have been teaching that way for years, so it wasn’t much of a transition for us. Our house is incredible – cosy, funky, with a garden that never stops its magic. We are healthy. Our families are healthy. I like beans. My family doesn’t hate beans that much.
My old friends and colleagues have been reaching out – and I have been guest teaching a bunch of studio classes for them online – it’s fun to see the Hollywood Squares of violinists, in their natural environments, cats streaming across the back, some students clearly in their PJ’s. Who cares? I mean, we are all in a state of disbelief. My old friends, in their squares – my daughter coming in with her white board which says “Where is the Peenut Butter?” – and a student playing the Bruch Violin Concerto from Texas. This is normal now. My lucky normal.
After she is done, I ask everyone to get a pencil and paper – they disappear, rummage, return. She plays that opening again – what a way to begin a concerto – what kind of state was Bruch in when he wrote this? We all write down words of how we feel when we hear those first bars. And we share.
She tried it again, faced away from us, eyes closed. And again. And again. Each time, she digs deeper. It’s not about the violin. It’s not about you playing the violin, or notes, or intonation or your vibrato or your bow distribution. It’s about you, as a human. If you feel it, we can feel it together. Separated by distance – we will never meet each other in our entire lives. But we can meet in our hearts. The sound waves, even through my crappy speakers – these go into my chest and resonate. Sad. Lonely. Anxious. Lost. Desire. Timeless. Waiting…….
I ask how many of these feelings they are feeling right now, living under Covid-19. How did Bruch know? Music is a gift to us, unlike any other time in my life. It will nourish, it will distract, it will allow pain and comfort to fully inhabit – it is private – and something we can share, in whichever creative way you are starting to share. It’s our way of processing and our line out of this. It’s our magical, mysterious, intangible gift. We are the lucky ones.