improvisation and suffering.

What have I accomplished today?  I woke up at 6am, warmed up my car that I’m afraid one day is just going to decide it can’t start, walked out the door at 6:40, went to Starbucks, drove to Buswell library to find out that it was locked, drove back to Starbucks and now it’s 7:30 and my class starts in an hour.  Instead of doing what I was hoping I would do (Aural Skills homework), I’m writing a blog post.  And I’m oddly ok with that.

I’m not sure where this post will lead, so I apologize if you read a post and hope to know the point before I start.  I don’t know the point of this post, therefore, you won’t know the point either.  Hopefully there is a point to it though.  As always, there has been a lot on my mind.  One, my senior recital is coming up in less than a week.  It’s made me think about my musicianship throughout these past 5 years.  For those of you who don’t know me, I play the cello.  I’ve been playing the cello for about 13 years.  I’ve realized that I came into college very well trained technically.  But my musicality was very lacking, which I think is a good place to be.  To have the techniques down on my instrument but be lacking in the musicality.  It’s better than lacking in technique but advanced in musicality, because technique will always hinder from the musicality.  That’s beside the point.

Since coming to college, my one major accomplishment performance-wise has been my ability to step away from the music and actually say something with the notes that have been written out for me.  The main way that I was able to accomplish this was through the ability to improvise.

I love the cello.  I love playing, performing, but most of all I love hearing the cello.  I love the instrument, and I know the instrument.  Improvising has allowed me to gain the confidence to be ok with playing something that may sound bad, and moving on from it.  When you improvise, not everything sounds good.  I would improvise with a pianist, and so most of the time it wouldn’t sound good.  I started out playing whole notes under the piano, but now I’ve been able to play moving notes and it becomes easier and easier to play off something that doesn’t sound good and making it seem like it was supposed to be that way.

Here are some links to improvised music that my friend Ryan and I recorded:


Most of all improvising helped me to step away from the notes.  Prior to my improvising experiences, I was so caught up in getting the right notes that I couldn’t step away and find the line of the whole phrase.  Improvising gave me the freedom to say something with my instrument where prior, I couldn’t because I was focused on the details of a passage.  It would take me forever to read and learn a piece of music because I was so focused on the notes and all the details within that note (dynamics, articulation, etc.)  I’m going to be honest, I’ve only started practicing for my recital within the past month.  And even that practicing hasn’t been a lot.  This week, I’m planning on actually practicing a lot… which who knows if that’ll be a lot.  But the point is, I’ve learned new pieces much faster than I did before because of that ability to read through a piece of music the first time and understand the phrasing of it instead of just focusing on the notes.  Music and the way it is written makes sense, and when you understand why a composer wrote something a certain way, then you can easily understand where he/she is going with it.

Enough of the music jargon.  I’ve also been thinking about relationships and how God provides.  When you lose someone close to you, whether they pass away or they just drop out of your life, there is a grieving process that takes place.  I’ve been going through this and it’s been challenging in many ways.  I’m not going to go into details of what’s happened or who I’ve lost, but I miss them.  I’ve been in denial, I’ve been angry, I’ve tried to see what went wrong and questioned with what ifs, I’ve been depressed, and I’ve been anything but accepting of it.

I trust that the acceptance will come in time, but for now, I’m suffering the loss.  It’s been challenging to move on in my life and leave the past behind.  One thing I can say though, is God is good.  He has provided for me friends that have blessed me in so many ways.  I’m able to be myself now and I’m enjoying my life and where I’m at so much more.  Many of my friends have no idea what I’m suffering the loss of, but they have been supportive of me and loving of me as if I’ve known them my whole life.  I’ve felt very alone and isolated, but I’ve also felt more loved this past semester than I have in a long time.  God has been so good in providing me exactly what I need at exactly the right time that I needed it.

I am certain that God had this planned out in my life that I wouldn’t suffer alone.  I am also certain that he would not let you suffer alone either.  He has blessed me so much by his provision and by the body of Christ.  My view of the body of Christ and it’s purpose in this broken, lonely world has greatly expanded in the past 5 years.  God has shown me who he is and his presence in my life much more fully and I’m so thankful for God’s grace in showing me that.  Through the pain of loss, I know God is good.  That is the one truth I hold to, and everything else will fall to pieces around that.  I pray that in your suffering God will teach you that same thing, that he is good despite the pain.  I pray that truth will lead you through the rest of your life.


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