When I first moved to China a little over two years ago, I didn’t pack any black clothes. Well. I did pack one fancy dress that happened to be black, but I did go out of my way not to pack a lot of black.

Why? In my new life, I wasn’t going to be playing in a whole lot of concerts. I was starting anew. No longer music major, but English teacher.

The question was:

Did I really enjoy playing oboe, or was it just habit drilled into me over the past near decade?

I told myself I would only practice if I wanted to, and not out of guilt. I didn’t have to play every day. I didn’t have to play two or more hours a day. I didn’t have to work on reeds. No more guilt.

And I didn’t. I didn’t practice nearly “enough,” and it was okay. I did miss it, but I still wasn’t yet sure whether it was truly the music I missed, or if I was merely pining for my past way of life.

Beijing International Chamber Orchestra. And me with a goofy look on my face as usual…

About half way through my adventure in China, I joined the Beijing International Chamber Orchestra, and I realized what I had truly missed was making music with like-minded people. I had missed the camaraderie of people who really got it. And I had found it again.

So, once a week, I traveled by bus, by subway (lines 4 and 10), and by foot, for about an hour and half to attend a two hour rehearsal, and then by foot, by subway, and by the last bus out of Haidian around 10:50 pm to arrive back at the compound usually just after the guard had locked up for the night. Music was back in my life, and little by little the concert black drifted back too.

Aside: lately it may seem that this is somewhat turning into more of a music blog and less of a Peace Corps Colombia blog, and I apologize for that. Being a musician is a pretty big part of my identity, and joining an orchestra has been just about the most exciting thing to happen to me since stepping off the plane in the Barranquilla airport just over a year ago.

Skip to the present. Two Fridays ago was my very first concert with the Cartagena Philharmonic, and yesterday was my very second concert with them, and it was wonderful in just about every way. I didn’t disgrace myself n any of my oboe solos (by the way, did you know that this is the first time I’ve been first oboe since high school when I was only oboe?) We played the first concert in the absolutely beautiful Teatro Adolfo Mejia in downtown Cartagena, and played the second (free) concert in the Bellas Artes front hall where we often practice. There was plenty of time for orchestra bonding in the rehearsals leading up to the concert too. I had a wonderful time and we didn’t sound half bad either. And, since a lot of out-of-town volunteers were in Cartagena celebrating our one year anniversary on Saturday, I had a whole lot of gringo fan club action at the second concert. Thanks for the love guys!

So, to answer the question of whether I truly enjoy music or not… Yeah. I do love it. I couldn’t live without music.

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3 responses »

  1. aunt Alaina says:

    Sweet Abby, I can hear the joy in your blog. What a blessing.

  2. Mom says:

    So glad music is back in the life of my talented girl!

  3. Alyssa says:

    I feel you. I just started practicing again and I miss playing with other musicians so much.

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