Music is Life

So. Many. Things. Have happened since my last post in January of this year!  Like, I HAD A BABY!  On April 15, 2013 at 4:20am, I gave birth to Benjamin Robert Test, a healthy, 8 pound boy.  He is now 3 months old, and he has been such a joy to take care of, love, watch change and grow, and show off.  Being a mother has introduced so many firsts and has been what I consider the biggest improvisation of my life!

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So, about that whole improvisation thing…I’ve often said, “MUSIC IS LIFE,” meaning that everything we encounter in music, we encounter in life and vice versa.  For instance, becoming a mother and parent for the first time was filled with many unknowns.  It’s like playing a new piece of music for the first time.  Even though so many millions and billions of people have been through the process of becoming parents, it’s just not something you can be fully prepared for without experiencing it yourself.  Just like performing a piece.  Sure, you can read about it, watch films and documentaries, ask your friends, ask your parents, think about it, imagine it, and even daydream about it, but it’s really all just a theory until it’s YOUR turn to do it.  So, the best thing you can do is research, prepare, and practice to your ability and leave yourself open to experiencing the whole thing as it happens.  Oh, and be prepared to be unprepared.  And also learn to expect the unexpected and to make some mistakes.  After all, how will you know what to do until you know what to do?

So, now that my baby boy is here, life has not only just begun for him, but a new version of life is constantly evolving for me as well.  I am now a musician, wife, teacher, AND a mother.  In fact, being a mother is my newest role and quite possibly the most important role I will ever have.  My husband and I are now responsible for a new little boy and making sure that he grows up to be an independent, respectful, responsible adult.  That’s a huge job and not one that I take lightly.  But while we are working on that long-term project, I still have the other three roles to nurture….no biggie.  Thankfully, I’ve been learning about life and myself through music for more than half my life.  I’ll share the most poignant things in this entry.

TRUST YOURSELF.

While I don’t have a crystal ball and can’t predict the future of motherhood, I trust that I will know what to do and how to handle any situations when they arise.  And if I don’t, I’ll know how to find help.  Studying music and being a musician has taught me this “skill” called trusting myself.  I’ve often heard interviews of established, successful women like Oprah where they say something along the lines of, “if I could tell the 20 yr. old version of myself anything, I’d tell her to trust herself and believe in herself more.” Now that I’m almost halfway through my thirties, I’d echo those sentiments.  You can be afraid of the unknown, aka the future, or you can trust that you’ll figure it out once it becomes the present.  It’s like making a stop at the convenience store hungry only to realize you have 85 cents in your pocket.  What will you do?  Instead of lamenting the fact that you left your wallet at home along with your packed lunch and your phone where your friend with some cash and time to bring it all to you would be a call away, you’ll figure something else out.  Maybe you’ll just find something to eat that’s less than 85 cents or do something more creative to fundraise.  Maybe you’ll pull your horn out and play for tips!  In other words, you will be fine and you will figure it out.  You’ll make due…and you’ll do better the next time you leave the house expecting to encounter hunger along the way.  When tomorrow’s challenges arrive, you’ll be there, and you’ll figure it out just like I will.  I trust that now more than ever.

MAKE SOMETHING OF THE MISTAKES YOU MAKE.

In so many ways, music has been preparing me for motherhood my whole life.  Music has  taught me that mistakes will happen, and that mistakes are essential in promoting change, growth, and learning.  I have made and will make mistakes as I raise Benjamin.  I have and will make mistakes as a horn player, wife, and teacher.  But along with all of the mistakes comes the knowledge and wisdom that I have and will gain as a result of reflecting on them in order to do better.  When I know better, I will do better.  And, if I don’t know better, I hope someone will show me better or that I will always seek to do better!  And while I’m making mistakes, seeking to and hopefully doing better, I hope to be a positive example and influence on those watching…like my son and my students.

As someone who doesn’t really enjoy making mistakes, especially in a public forum (who does?), I often think about quotes like, “those who don’t make mistakes don’t make much of anything” and “those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind” to help get me through those mistake-laden times.  I also do my best not to dwell on mistakes that I’ve made.  Sure, taking a look at the mistake’s cause is vital to preventing it from occurring again, but obsessing and meditating on the mistake itself will quite possibly make it happen again, and again.  Darn it, that’s not going to help!  So, I also like to remember that action follows thought and that where you put your energy, thought, and time is what grows.  Think positive and act positive.  Be solution-oriented.  Recover quickly.  Focus on what you want to happen and not on what you don’t want to happen.  TRUST YOURSELF.  And when all else fails, “fake it ’til you make it!”- that’s my favorite saying.  It foreshadows that you will make, and I know from experience that you won’t be faking it all the way.  Somewhere in there, you’ll become a confident, experienced expert!

I feel like I could draw from the well of “music is life” analogies for days.  There are so many of them that directly apply to my new role as a mother as well as every other role I have.  From practicing, rehearsing, performing alone or with others, learning about the history, improvising, teaching, to just listening to music on a deep level, you’ll potentially become better at everything you do.  Everything.  It’s all the same.

I look forward to continuing to think about all of the ways music is life.  And I look forward to sharing this with my son, Benjamin.  Please share with me how music has helped you in your life.  And if you never thought about it before, maybe now you will!

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