Editor’s note: Atlanta’s artists face uncertainty in the age of coronavirus. To help us all connect, we’re offering this series. In each “In Our Own Words” post, an artist will share their experience, strength and hope as we all navigate a new normal.
When Itzhak Perlman canceled his performance (March 11), I was still thinking this might not be as bad as we think. But the next performance was our movie weekend. Those are very popular and lucrative for the symphony, and we were doing Return of the Jedi. When that was canceled and then my kids’ school was canceled, I knew we were in for something really, really serious.
I love to teach, that’s always been a part of my life. I was blessed with some really good teachers. It’s like when your great-grandmother taught your grandmother her best biscuit recipe and then your grandmother taught it to your mother and your mother taught it to you. That’s knowledge passed down from generation to generation and I like to do that with music. I teach privately, and at Kennesaw State University and Emory University. Those classes are now all online. I’ve been teaching online for many years, so that wasn’t a big transition for me. Being in the same space is a different energy, but we’re all trying to make the best of it.
The ASO has a very grueling schedule. The amount of music we’re responsible for week to week, the kind of practice and preparation we have to do, it’s like cramming for exams. It’s a luxury to do personal practice. Instead of what I have to practice, I’m doing what I need to practice. I can work on my vibrato for an hour, or explore ways to play an F-sharp minor scale. I call it “pandemic practicing.”
One thing I’ve learned is that we are not in this by ourselves. We go through our lives thinking everything is so important: I have to learn this phrase, I have to be here at a certain time. The pandemic is an absolute wake-up call that we are all part of a much bigger picture. It’s made me sit down and ask: What is important in my life?
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