Thursday, May 26, 2011

One Note at a Time

Last weekend, as I was putting together some raised vegetable and herb beds in my garden, I had my two younger sons as my helpers. They really enjoyed themselves when I asked for their help with drilling holes in the wood, and then fastening the screws, as much as any boy enjoys using power tools. We also make our own compost and we find that it's such a pleasure to not only recycle paper and plastic, but to also reuse our leftover food to grow more food. That task, of getting it out of the compost bin and mixing it with the soil before planting, I left for myself, knowing what kind of "yuck" reaction I'd get from them (I, for one, think it smells slightly sweet, a testament to how much fruit we all eat).

Then there was some clean up to do, left over from the winter and spring, around the new garden beds-leaves, twigs, general yard refuse. My middle son started raking it, but it was a relatively big area, and he got tired and discouraged after a while. When I saw how he was doing it, I walked over to him, marked several smaller square-shaped parcels, and told him to do them one at a time. His face brightened, and, like any parent would, I saw a teachable moment. I reminded him how I have, in some of our cello practice sessions, told him to never look at any big problem straight in the eye, and to instead divide it into many more manageable problems, ones that can be solved without him feeling overwhelmed. Then I took a step further, and said that he can use that tool in any life situation that requires problem solving. That was of course a step too many, because at that point he rolled his eyes in the "there goes Dad lecturing me on life again" and proceeded to do as advised, but still, he got the point.

I had a couple of opportunities lately to practice what I preach. First, I realized that I use just such a way of thinking when I, in my typical fashion, made myself go up the steep Falls Rd. to Roland Ave. hill for the second time in a run, as I get myself ready for the Bolt for the BSO-in my case, Half-Marathon in October. Instead of looking up to the top of the hill, I usually look at the beautiful houses on the side of the road, one by one, and then it seems so much easier. The next opportunity came when i was facing hundreds of seemingly unrelated, fast (REALLY FAST) sixteenth notes in a really cool William Walton Symphony #1 that I had to get ready for the first rehearsal on Tuesday, for this weekend's concerts. It seemed a daunting, almost impossible task to look at the endless black circles with stems on the page and think, "I am going to have to play this in front of thousands of people in a concert soon." But, when approached slowly, one measure, one phrase, one furiously paced page at a time, it became, well, possible that I might survive. Not to mention that I was encouraged by the fact that dozens of my colleagues were using the same practice method at that very same time.

Come this weekend and see how well it worked! As I said, the Symphony, which we have not played in decades (if ever), is quite a power house of emotion. The rest of the program, led by the very methodical and very musical guest conductor Carlos Kalmar with Karen Gomyo on violin, is Mahler, Sibelius and Walton on Friday, May 27 at the Meyerhoff and Saturday, May 28 at Strathmore.

P.S. Check out this beautiful rainbow I caught on a walk last week, between a rehearsal and a concert, as it was trying to imitate the graceful architecture of Strathmore Hall.

-Ivan Stefanovic

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