A Different Kind of Manic Monday

It’s Monday and I have to remind myself that the most important thing is my health.

Today, the most important thing I can do is to rest. It fights my busybody, hyper-planned nature to do this.

I also want to join an orchestra. But my priority right now, after recuperating, needs to be my own practice. And my own progress toward my own solo career. Groups are great, orchestras, bands, ensembles…but they bog you down with too many lost hours in rehearsals, bonding activities, fund raising, and unpaid gigs where other people make money. Generally resulting in a giant time sink covering for other people while receiving diluted credit.
I am a really nice person so it invites a lot of people to walk all over me. I have a new respect for people who never play in public, whose music never leaves their living room. They will never have to do 5 times as many free gigs as modestly paid ones. It means they save money and time on distractions. They never have to sit through 2 hours of other people’s playing for their 5 minutes. They never have to spend weeks coordinating rehearsals via email.

There are, of course, thrills to playing in a group. But they are momentary, fleeting, and take months to build. And the next 20 years of my life will involve a lot of orchestral playing. The next 5 will involve getting a piece of paper so that I can have a basic bit of respect. The next 5 will involve furious auditions. The final 10 will be the glory years before I retire. And if I’m still alive and eating, I imagine I will spend many more years trying to find work.

My contribution to this world will be my teaching and performing. And a joy, borne of nothing but my own enjoyment of my playing. My ability to make musical magic out of nothing at all. I have a credit score that can certainly attest to that.

As for my health, I won’t be young forever. I will continue to rest because people don’t pay sick violinists. For a little while, I plan to try to confine my music to my living room long enough to get a little money and some health insurance. A very expensive gem. Try being the operative word.

Sometimes I curse the violin. It’s a hobby like a horse. Expensive, competitive, consuming. I wish I could have taken up a hobby like banking or boys that would have resulted in life married to money. But it wasn’t my destiny. There are enough people who do that for the world.

The world needed me to sacrifice peace of mind for this crazy making violin obsession. To make music even though I am neither young nor thin, nor rich. I know I will largely die in obscurity, but I won’t be obscure to the people whose lives I’ve changed.

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About Shelly Crouse-Monarez

Violin Performer and Mentor
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