Friday, November 4, 2011

Day 3: Sleep on the bed the wrong way and Day 4: play opera

Okay, I'm a day behind, but I have a good reason for it. I decided to sleep on my bed the wrong way for Day 3. I know that sounds like a ridiculous cop-out, but hear me out. I've slept the same way on the same side of my bed as long as I've had my mattress (3+ years). I've formed a dent in it, I've slept in the same position so many times. It's become a physical rut. Sometimes I try to spread myself out, but the rut is so strong, I usually just roll down into it. Sometimes a friend will stay the night in my bed, and I'm afraid gravity will force us to cuddle.

So for Night 3, I put my pillow at the foot of my bed and slept on the other half. It was odd. It made me realize the night routine I have, which people usually don't think about unless they HAVE to HAVE it a certain way. I don't think I slept any differently, but waking was rather disorienting. Combined with the wisps of a dream where I was traveling, it was like waking up in a new bed. I woke up just as groggy as ever, but it made the day feel like an exception, not the rule. I did all the same things, but everything felt kind of perkier. It might have had to do the vanilla beans I bought (hello, new activity!) or the stack of cds I bought for cheap, but I felt vaguely excited.

So... perhaps I've invented the micro-micro-microscopic vacation? I feel like this classifies me a bit as a weirdo, like when Jeff Murdoch admitted to eating ice cream to numb his tongue so it felt like someone was making out with him.

Day 4 is not really something quite 100% new, because a week before I started doing the 30 new things in 30 days, I went and played in the orchestra pit for an opera company. So tonight was not the first performance I've had with a singer, but this performance and the performances I played in last week made such an impact on me, it would be a sin to not talk about it. Since playing, I have

1. not been able to stop listening to opera
2. wished orchestras were more theatrical and dramatic
3. started watching The Merry Widow as a form of rom-com
4. wished for more physical manifestations of the joys of playing violin

The singer we played with tonight was fantastic, with a personality to match her vibrant voice. She sang beautifully, her facial expression displaying the emotions of the words she sang. She read the lyrics translations out loud to us, awed by their meaning. Emotion just burst from her.

Singing is also something that I feel uninhibits the body more, which can be good or bad. I get back cramps when I play violin for too long, and yet when I'm really nervous, I don't know where to look, and my own eyes end up making my own fingers self-conscious. In opera, this singer went from singing with her arms crossed in front of her to flinging her arms about. The opera company that I played with was theatric. They kissed, they laughed, they held each other in their arms. Add a level of theatre (not to mention good-looking people), and suddenly we have the emotional heartstrings from theatre on top of already emotional music. Suddenly, my violin playing felt dull. Sure, there was something you could feel, but you didn't see or feel love. You didn't see the interaction, or the thoughts of a soliloquey.

Watching the singer today, I was reminded of one violinist I particularly like. I remember reading a review where she was described as playing ferociously, her face contorted in pain. Occasionally she would cry out or yelp with pain. I remember practice sessions from when I was young where I'd come out dripping in sweat, too exhausted to play another note.

The concert we played tonight ends the first concert in our series for my orchestra. The second one (no joke, I'm not trying to make a coincidence) is one where I'm soloing. So now is the time for me to harness everything I've learned from this to make the best performance I can.

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