Auditions – Friend or Foe?

Today I sat in on some auditions for the Brookline Symphony Orchestra.  As Principal 2nd Violin of the Brookline Symphony, I was asked to be part of the audition committee for auditioning violinists.

Auditions have never been my strong suit.  I could always perform infront of hundreds of people without blinking an eyelash, but as soon as I feel like I’m being directly judged for my playing ability, I immediately get short of breath and lose all of the fine motor skills required for mastery of the instrument.  Maybe this is because when I’m performing, I feel that I am sharing my music with the world – and usually, the audience is composed of ordinary people who have not gone through rigorous musical training.  On the other side of the spectrum, in an audition, I am usually in front of others who have made music their lives – and they are as aware of the tiny nuances necessary for great music making as I.  This causes me to be so overly focused on my technique, that I  lose my natural  rapport with the violin and I am no longer at one with the instrument.

Sometimes I wonder what the point of auditions are – when they can make the greatest musicians clam up and perform to 30% of their ability.  After all, aren’t musicians known for their great level of sensitivity?  And if this is so, it seems that the more sensitive the musician, the more likely that she will be greatly affected by nerves in situations where she is being judged.

Surprise Marriage Proposal in North Grafton, MA

Last weekend I got a call to play the violin for a surprise proposal.  The man on the phone was so endearing – very nice and wanted nothing more than to make this moment special for his girlfriend.  He told me that his girlfriend absolutely loved the violin and that he thought she would really appreciate this.  He suggested that I play Vocalise by Rachmaninoff, which is one of my favorite violin pieces.

When I arrived at their apartment, I tuned the violin right outside my car and then he led me into the apartment entrance, where he sprinkled some rose petals on the ground.  He had invited all of his friends to surprise his girlfriend afterward – and they were all waiting outside in suspense.

I began to play and his girlfriend came downstairs to see what all the commotion was about.  He got down on one knee – and asked her to marry him.  It was simple and straight forward and she said yes without hesitation.  We all went upstairs to their apartment afterward to celebrate the occasion.  All of their close friends were there with food and laughter.  It warmed my heart to be a part of such a special day for them.

Farm Wedding in Andover, MA

Last weekend I played a wedding at Smolak Farms in Andover, MA.  I got a little lost on the way there, but had given myself ample time to get to the wedding and I arrived an hour early.  When I entered the front gate, I realized how big the farm was and there were many parking lots to choose from.  I felt overwhelmed already.  I walked through what seemed to be an entire field before I saw the big tent. It was soon after that I realized the only bathrooms available were porter potties.  I was preparing myself for what I thought would be a very long couple of hours.

When I reached the tent, the bride immediately recognized me with a big smile.  She was very warm and approachable and I felt at ease again.  The ceremony was unique in that it had many cultural traditions that I had never seen before.  5 minutes before the start of the ceremony, the priest came up to me and told me to just add music to all of these little rituals – and that it would be great if I could just improvise something on the spot.  This took me by surprise, but I felt ok about it since improvisation is a strength of mine.  All in all the ceremony went smoothly and I was on my way to the next engagement.

A Wedding Day with My Best Friend

This wedding was special because I got to spend the day with my best friend, who went with me to the wedding at the Zorvino Vineyards in Sandown, New Hampshire.  My friend is also a violinist and she is interested in learning the business of wedding freelancing.  We decided that it would be good for her to observe what I do at a wedding gig.

We headed out in the morning to the Wrentham outlets to return a couple of things and shop around a little before heading to the wedding.  Unfortunately, on the way there, we found ourselves stuck in the middle of traffic that was heading toward the Kenny Chesney Concert. (We are both from the South – and moved to Boston to get away from that whole scene…we couldn’t believe our luck!) We sat in the same mile radius for about an hour – and we were only left with 30 minutes at the outlets.  I was so disappointed.  Here was a day that was supposed to be a “fun girls day out” and it was quickly becoming a timed chore to return my shoes and get back in the car for two hours for the wedding.  At least after that we stopped by Wendy’s – which made both of us feel a little better.

The wedding was in a beautiful location and everyone was so helpful and on top of things (which is so often not the case).  I told my friend that this would be a great learning experience for her because we would probably have trouble finding the wedding coordinator and there would be no one designated for sending people down the isle – I usually have to take things into my own hands when I arrive since there are a million little details that need to be straightened out in order for the ceremony to run smoothly and I was so ready to share these skills with my friend.  To the contrary, the mother of the bride recognized me right away, the wedding coordinator came up to me moments later and we confirming all the details, and the wedding party started on time.  I told my friend, “well, it’s not usually this easy, but that was great!”


Does a Relationship Improve with Age? Wedding After 10 Years of Dating

This wedding was unique in that it was held at the bride’s parents’ home.  It was very intimate – only immediate family.  They had the ceremony in their back yard overlooking a lake.  It was a beautiful sunny day and the sun was sparkling off the water.

I was so taken by the vows that the couple exchanged.  They had written their own vows – and both were so honest and heartfelt.  This couple had been dating for 10 years prior to getting married.  This fact was so comforting to me – as it shows that true love and butterflies can still exist after years of knowing the other person inside and out.

I strongly feel that it is so easy to feel connected to one’s partner early on in the relationship, mainly because each person tends to agree with each other on almost everything.  It is easy to spot new couples in restaurants by the constant verbal exchange that bounces back and forth – I believe this is mainly due to the fact that new couples like the feeling of validating and being validated by their new partner.  This constant feeling of connectedness and feeling understood makes us feel warm and fuzzy – and we crave this “good” feeling.

According to psychologists in the Marriage and Family Therapy field, (which I received my Masters degree in), it is the ability to disagree and be true to oneself in the presence of another that defines true intimacy – and this type of intimacy is much more likely to be experienced later on in the relationship.  It is the vulnerability that one experiences when showing parts of oneself that may not be accepted by the partner, that establishes the differentiation necessary for experiencing true intimacy in a relationship.

The media teaches us that intimacy is the feeling of infatuation with our partner and feeling understood and validated by our partner.  In actuality, we must learn to self-validate while in the presence of our partner – at the risk of our partner not accepting our position.  This is extremely difficult to do – because it increases the feeling of anxiety and vulnerability, but this is the stuff of lasting marriages – according to the Marriage and Family Therapy school of thought.

When I saw this couple get married after 10 years of truly knowing each other, it gave me hope for lasting relationships – and how a relationship just gets better with age.

Two Weddings in One Day: Woburn, MA and Swampscott, MA

I had two out of town weddings on this particular Saturday.  The first one was a big Catholic Mass Ceremony in a beautiful old church and the other was a Protestant Ceremony in a similar church.

When I arrived to the first wedding I met with the organist, who was very organized and wonderful to work with.  He was very flexible with how to work together and accompany the melody line.  Although I hardly ever amplify the violin since it was built to project, (made in 1750 – Italy), I took the organist’s advice to amplify most of the pieces since the organ is such a powerful, dominant instrument.  With the amplification and the exquisite acoustics of the church, the sound billowed through the entire church and sent chills down my spine.  It was at this point that I decided when I get married, I want an organ and a violin.  The nature of the sound is so triumphant and stately – which, in my opinion, is exactly what you want if you’re the bride walking down the isle.  At the end of the ceremony (before the priest announced the new couple as husband and wife, I was dumbfounded when he asked the congregation to take a minute and “thank the violinist for the beautiful music!”  It absolutely made my day.  (On a side note, I definitely got some ideas for a wedding dress here.  She was wearing a gown that you would see out of the 1920s with her hair in a low bun and the veil attached right underneath the bun.

The second wedding was in Swampscott, MA with another organ!  The organist at this wedding wanted to take full control – which I appreciated since it is very rare that I get to sit back and relax for most of the prelude music while the other musician plays his selections.  In the middle of the ceremony, I played Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring by Bach with the organist – and in the middle of the piece he had trouble turning the page on time.  He panicked, but I continued to play (to his astonishment) since I have this music and many others memorized.  At the end, he said he would love to work with me again – which I take pride in, since he was a very professional musician.

Wedding Hyatt Regency, Cambridge, MA July 17th

I was glad to have a break from all the traveling this Saturday when I got in a taxi to scoot across town to the wedding site.  I thought to myself, “How nice is it to jump in a taxi 30 minutes before my playing start time and have more than enough time to spare!”  I got to relax and have my morning latte – it felt like a normal Saturday – how Saturdays are supposed to feel.  Usually I am driving to at least one (if not more) out of town weddings each Saturday and I have forgotten how it feels for the world to slow down a little.

The wedding was beautiful.  It was in an indoor tent attached to the Hyatt Regency in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  The bride was such a lovely person – so warm and kind – and most importantly, down to earth.  I’m not at all sure that this is how I would be if I were getting married, but I would like to hope so.  She was not at all focused on the trivial and materialistic details of the event, rather, she was completely immersed in what the day represented – the day she would marry her best friend.

Wedding Providence, Rhode Island July 22

This was another outdoor wedding in late July.  When I arrived they placed me on a pier like structure overlooking the water.  It was so windy that every time I got up to change my music my chair would blow over!  I had to sit and secure my music stand with my feet the entire 2 hours of the wedding ceremony and the cocktail hour.  The wind constantly picked up my bow and slid it to the other end of the violin – I felt like all of my technique that is required for subtlety and artistry was taken from me and I was just holding on to the bow for dear life!  Although this wedding was a tough one due to the weather conditions, I feel that it was a great experience for being resourceful and forcing me to perform under very difficult circumstances.

Wedding Ocean Edge Resort, Cape Cod, MA

The next day I was off to Cape Cod to play another wedding ceremony.  This one was an absolute pleasure.  I arrived to a beautiful mansion with an outdoor patio section with lounging furniture, cocktails, and palm trees.  There was even an elevator outside to take you to the different levels of the resort!  I felt like I had arrived at a palace!

Although the resort was absolutely lovely, the best part of this wedding was the fact that the bride and groom were so incredibly in love.  They were a little older than the couples I usually play for and you could tell they had waited their entire lives to meet the right person.  They were two very patient people who knew themselves so well.

While I was waiting for the ceremony to begin, the bride’s best friend (who was also the officiant), told me that the groom had cried the night before at the rehearsal dinner because he was filled with so much joy.  I thought to myself, “I hope when I get married, my husband will feel that way about me.”


Wedding in Point Breeze Webster, MA

On July 14th I played a wedding ceremony in Webster MA.  It was so incredibly hot and sunny – I had forgotten my sunscreen (which I will never do again).  Although the ceremony started 30 minutes late, the guitar player was really nice and helped me set up and figure out who was in charge of sending people down the isle.  This was a really down to earth crowd – the couple was obsessed with the band, Phish, and everyone was walking around with a cold beer in hand right after walking down the isle.