There are days, when you’re in an ensemble, where you sigh and say to yourself “if only I could be practicing my solo rep. right now.” Yup, I’ve even caught myself doing it a couple times this year (I admit, embarrassedly). Being in demanding ensembles can be wearing, but I spent a year, more or less, last year, without any regular ensembles and it was rough! I loved having the “me” time, if you will to focus on practice, specifically: scales, orchestral excerpts, concerti, arpeggios, Taffanel and Gaubert, so on and so forth, but eventually (and I didn’t even realize this) I started to miss playing with other humans. Ensembles bring an inter-personal connection to music and it’s something you can’t get on your own. Anyone who’s played with others knows this. Personally, everyone of my closest friends was made in an ensemble. Yup, think back…every last one of you, whether it was band, orchestra, or choir, ensembles are how I know all of you, even if you’re someone I met through, say Hillel, I met you through music first, almost guaranteed!
For some reason, I’m exceedingly sleepy this week, so I want to keep this short, so I can get to bed, but I’ll leave this with one memory I have. In college, in my elementary music methods class we were discussing, based off a list, why we play music? Is it for ourselves, is it to be with others, etc and so forth. My answer was that I played for myself. I still hold to that answer and what I said as an amendment to it then. It’s a challenge to play only for yourself. Even if you’re playing an unaccompanied piece, unless you never leave your practice space, you’re playing for or with others. Last year I often played with or for others, be they accompanists, my parents, my friends, or teachers for whom I was auditioning, that never changed. The thing you lack in that sort of situation is the camaraderie. I found that again this year and I will do my best to hang onto it for as long as I can. I love the “me” time, but I need some ensemble buddies too. 🙂