I will admit, on the subject of college basketball, I think the third-graders that I teach would have a better chance of designing a winning bracket. Go Hoosiers / Broncos !
The month of March is roaring through the school of music and taking no prisoners. Lots of performances, tons of papers, and of course, practicing. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of playing in a masterclass for Mihai Tetel, associate professor of cello at the University of Hartford. Tetel is a friend of Uchimura’s and they teach together at Telel’s summer institute, Aria, held at Mount Holyoke College.
On account of him being short on time, Prof. Tetel asked for the first two pages of the Bach 6 Prelude but graciously asked me play the movement in its entirety. His comments were very insightful and insistent. This is partly due to his bluntness (in my opinion, he’s pretty “old school”). However, at the heart of it all, there is an overwhelming sense that Tetel wants you to do better because he knows you want to do better.
This is something that I think we all struggle with. While we all long to improve our technique and musicianship, do we really want it in a way that leads to improved practicing and performance? It is an elusive state, or perhaps I should say, an elusive way of life. How, with all of life’s challenges, do we remain focused on the path?
While I am still trying to work this one out, I think part of the equation is setting goals, both long-term and short-term. The romanticized and more abstract long-term” is what gives us the sense of purpose, drive, and spirit to push forward. The short-term goals are the tangible steps we take to achieving them. One cannot function without the other. A NCAA championship isn’t won just dreaming about the final four and you’re not going to improving your shooting percentage if you don’t dream big.
Rewind three years and I am in the thick of completing my undergrad degree. It’s about this time, spring of my sophomore year, that I really began to question my place in the world of classical music. Am I good enough? Do I have what it takes? Maybe I should switch my major? Obviously, I decided to stay. But I also made another goal, which was that if someday, I was able to play J. S. Bach's Suite No. 6 in D Major BWV 1012 in a meaningful way, I would be satisfied. Today, I can say that I have just begun to see the tip of that iceberg. I feel lucky to have always been surrounded by teachers who can help me more clearly define and achieve my goals. Through their dedication and guidance I have made it this far.
As a side note, this post is partly inspired by Prof. Emilio Colon of Indiana University. One of Telel’s first remarks was of me being “set up well” and that I should thank my teachers for this. Also, Prof. Colon believes that I know nothing about sports (partly true) and therefore elected to make sports analogies all the time in my lessons. I once told him that I played varsity tennis in high school and his response was that “that doesn’t count”. I hope that my college basketball reference earns me some points in his book.
Next week, USO goes on tour to Detroit and WMU hosts the Society of Composers conference. Upwards and onwards.