Inspiring Insight

Posts tagged ‘music’

To Suck or not to Suck – It Doesn’t Matter


Photo by BaherKhairy

I volunteered tonight at my daughter’s symphony chair auditions. My task was to walk the children of the cello section from rehearsal to a small private room with a judge and back to rehearsal, one at a time. These kids’ ages ranged from 12 to 14 and there were eight of them.

They were nervous.

Six of them told me they didn’t practice enough. One of them told me he would fail.

I urged them to breathe deeply and think positively. But they weren’t having it!

Their pessimism surprised me. These kids attend rehearsal once a week, most coming from other cities 30 minutes away or more. They take private lessons.

It goes to show that two important factors necessary for confidence in performance: preparation and positivity.

Still, watching young kids work so hard to make beautiful music together warms the heart!

I love my friend’s reaction to her son when his audition was over.

He walked out of his audition, stretched his arms out and shouted, “I sucked!”

She said, “Well, let’s go out for ice cream then.”

And they did.


Photo by Jared Sluyter

Garbage In, Garbage Out


I take walking breaks between teaching classes. I used to grab my little iPod mini (which replaced my Sony Walkman). I got tired of listening to my music. So I plugged my headphones into my cell phone and listened to TedTalks and informational videos on YouTube. The change has been tremendous!

I’ve learned about meditation, motivation, education, nutrition and much more. Because I learn during my walks, I have more to offer my students, my children, my spouse and friends. Now, my walks provide mental as well as physical energy.

What are you listening to? What are you reading? You’re in control of the input. Now – more than ever – there is “information” and “noise.” Be mindful about what goes through those ears of yours and into your beautiful mind.



Teens and Talent


“I’m procrastinating,” my daughter said. She was just hanging out with me. With all her chores done, the last item on her list of “to dos” was to practice her violin.

“I don’t get it. You are so good at violin. You seem to enjoy it. Why do you always put it off?”

“I love playing. I don’t like practicing. It’s hard and it’s boring.”

“Well, it’s the practicing that makes us like listening to the playing.”

“You’re so mean,” she says as she opens her case.


The Practice


One of the 5 ways to increase your grit is practice, practice, practice. By this, Angela Lee Duckworth means to practice deliberately. For example, let’s say you’re a musician. It might be tempting to play that piece that you know so well, the one everyone compliments you on. But you’re not going to get better by doing that. You need to practice that four octave scale you haven’t nailed yet. You need to go slowly, hit each not just right and start over when you get it wrong. Boring! Tedious! But so critical.

This is grit.

It’s hard and it’s boring and you need to do it every single day. You need to be consistent.

That is how you get better.

By the way, you can substitute anything for practicing violin: football, soccer, dance, writing, drawing, painting. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing extremely well.






Remedy for the Blues

I made the mistake of reading some news today. BIG mistake. What a downer. How dispiriting! But tonight, my family attended my daughter’s high school dance performance. Over 20 different acts, ranging from beginning to highly advanced performed in quick succession. And instantly, my spirits lifted. Kids of all ages, of all body types, and of all skills danced their hearts out. The audience was comprised of friends and families who hooted and hollered their encouragement, calling kids by name.

Dance. Art. Music. Literature. These are activities that require self-discipline, practice and focus. When you observe or participate in the arts, you are party to a deep, spiritual practice of love and harmony.

If you’re feeling “blah” or down, I highly recommend that you attend a local live show – preferably put on by children – immediately. Your spirit will soar.




“I’ll Cure You of Disease”


The girls (13 and 14) have had their eyes glued to their iPhones. Literally, they can be on Instagram and chat for hours at a time. I get it: It’s 110 degrees outside and you can only swim in our pool for so long. And they are practicing their violins for 60 to 90 minutes each day. If I ask, they fold laundry, take out the garbage and vacuum. That still leaves many hours in the day. They can sit for that long, watching videos, reading other people’s feeds and chatting with friends. Josie is just getting into Pokemon and asks for us to drive her around. I refuse. We tried it last night and I guess the server crashed (?) So No Pokemon Go. I consider this THE disease of their generation: apathy brought on by technology.

Fed up, I took their phones last night. They squawked. And then they went to bed. With the phones in my room, they knew better than to reach for them in the morning. Ava swam 30 laps straight away. Then they made themselves some breakfast. And then I asked them to peel, core and cut up 7 large apples for our apple crisp. They did a beautiful job.  I had Josie organize photos and papers for me while Ava completed making the crisp. “What else, mom?” Fold some laundry.

The girls are into 21 Pilots. We marvel at how distinctly different each of their songs are. We could hear a bit of Bob Marley, Red Hot Chili Peppers, maybe even some Bob Dylan.

“I love how they create so many different sounding songs.” Ava said.

“Yeah, I imagine they listen to a wide range of artists and then are influenced by them. They study what they like. You know, Ava, you play a lot of classical music, but that doesn’t mean you have to only play classical. You can let 21 Pilots influence you too.”

Ava agreed.

“I’m going to compose this song House of Gold and make the harmony for Josie, too.”

While Josie did my makeup (she insisted, I capitulated), Ava listened to the recording and replayed it on her violin. Then she got the computer and re-created the notes on a music software program, MuseScore.

Josie swam 30 laps.

They practiced violin.

We went to Target and came home. They got to be on phones for a bit.

Ava resumed working on the song.

It was a fantastic day. Tyler Joseph cured the disease!

Songs in the Car



Josie and I are in the car.  “Because of You ” by Kelly Clarkson comes on. I sing a long.

Because of you
I never stray too far from the sidewalk
Because of you
I learned to play on the safe side so I don’t get hurt
Because of you
I find it hard to trust not only me, but everyone around me
Because of you
I am afrai

“She’s so whiny,” Josie says.

“I love her voice,” I say.


And then Maroon 5’s  “Wake Up Call” comes on.

Caught you in the morning with another one in my bed
Don’t you care about me anymore?
Don’t you care about me?
I don’t think so.

“He’s so  whiny!” I mock.

Six foot tall
Came without a warning, so I had to shoot him dead
He won’t come around here anymore
Come around here?
I don’t think so.

“He took action,” she says.

By the way, Kelly Clarkson wrote “Because of You” when she was 16. It’s about her father, who abandoned his family when she was six years old.

Meet Fear with Courage, Love and Art

Josie with her air violin

Josie with Her Air Violin


A few years ago, Josie and Ava were watching a Disney program. At 8 and 9, they were excited about a young, rising star named Christina Grimmie. Her love and talent of music fueled their desire to be musicians.

When Ms. Grimmie was shot to death, my daughters were devastated and in shock. Why? Why her? She was such a good person. 

There is no answer to this question. We keep asking this question and there is no satisfactory answer.

On the heels of this tragedy, another one occurred: 50 people killed in Orlando. Innocent young lives were taken by an armed and mentally deranged person.My girls were very quiet. “I’m so….sad,” Ava said before she fell asleep.

Two weeks ago, our neighbor across the street murdered his wife with a gun. To my children, it seems like guns are everywhere. We live in Arizona…America…so they are. Guns are everywhere.

I don’t want my children to grow up fearful and angry.

I don’t want my children to be victims of terror or violence.

I don’t want my children to be disgusted with their world.

Ava had decided months ago that every Monday during summer vacation, she would play her violin for the Alzheimer residents at a nearby facility. As I drove her and Josie to the center today, I told them that every person can only control how they act in this world. “You two are influencing your world for the better. You are spreading love and music to lonely people and you help them be happy. I’m very proud of you.”

They nodded silently.

Sometimes, the only answer to senseless violence is the persevering action of kindness. Love will always prevail.