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September 18, 2013

I hate music, or: the scales fall from my eyes

Quite possibly the worst string orchestra rehearsal ever, not because I played badly or anything, but because we acquired another violist (and doubling our section). Which was actually a good thing, but the conductor was so overjoyed that by the end of the rehearsal he was practically begging the guy to keep coming back, and to my ears it sounded so much like "please keep coming back, please don't leave me with just this one lousy chairwarmer, please." All the demons returned, the ones who say "no matter how hard you work, you will never amount to anything, and any gains you feel you have made, well, they don't amount to a hill of beans and you still stink, bless your earnest little heart, and you always will."

And I do work fucking hard, but it's not enough. There is no All-State orchestra for adults. There is no logical progression from Turkey in the Straw or Happy Birthday to any real music. As an adult you take what you're given, and whether you learn from this or not, that's the only road available. You will never be taken seriously; no one will ever believe that you really want to learn just like kids do. The best you can hope for is that you can avoid looking ridiculous, or being condescended to. The best you can hope for is to be a nonentity, and I guess I have achieved that.

(Or maybe this doesn't apply to all adult learners, only me).

Over the past few years I've had a lot of "aha! you are so awful" epiphanies regarding music, but this one feels like the worst, even worse than after that recital. Of course, the most recent epiphany always feels like the worst one.

So what do I do now? I still love music, and I still love the sound of the viola, but I hate the way I sound playing it, and I hate the way I feel when I sound bad, and I hate knowing that all the work I put into learning just gets me to the point where I am barely tolerable. I want to quit this orchestra, and I want to quit lessons. Complicating this is the fact that the orchestra conductor is also my viola teacher. It would be hard to just drop out of all of it without some kind of conversation, which I really want to avoid.

Posted by joe positive at September 18, 2013 10:20 PM

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