Violinist. Writer. Cat Person.
How I Got Started
When I was 5 years old, my mom asked me if I wanted to play the violin. I agreed without really listening, since I was busy playing with my Barbie dolls and bopping to tunes on my Fisher-Price turntable.
But turns out, I was what people like to call a “natural”. Playing came easily to me and I advanced through the Suzuki books with alarming ease. Quiet and painfully shy, I learned that playing the violin and doing it well made me special and different. It made people take notice of me and like me.
It was with this information that at age 9, I told my mother that I wanted to be a professional violinist. Half a year later, we moved from Seattle to the raucous bustle of Manhattan.
My violin teacher said that I needed to go home from school everyday before recess, so I would have time to practice. So every afternoon, while my schoolmates ran screaming with delight onto the school playground, I trudged home to an empty apartment, my violin waiting in my bedroom.
Being a “Child Prodigy”
Three short years later, I was standing in front of the Baltimore Symphony, puffy in pink chiffon and playing a Paganini Concerto. I was christened a “child prodigy” and I traveled the world, playing my face off. Eventually, I ended up at the Juilliard School, where I went through the Pre-College Program and got two degrees. I also cut my teeth early as a teacher, as an assistant to Dorothy DeLay before I had graduated from her class.
The thing is though, everything in life is a trade off.
The path of a child prodigy is one of an accelerated entry into adulthood, without the luxuries of time and experimentation. So, even though I gained a career and travel and entry into a rarified world of music making that few have had access to, I also shed early all the trappings of girlhood; hobbies and interests, friends and curiosities, goofing off and going to prom.
Which left me wondering, two decades later…
“Is It Recess Yet?”
Would things have been different had I been allowed to take recess; to eat lunch with my friends; to take time off and travel the world; to live in the college dorms; to experiment with hobbies that interested me but I was never able to pursue?
So now, here I am, intent on exploring the things that interest me for no other reason that that I think they’re fun or cool or pleasurable. Not because I’m good at them or because people like me better because I can do them.
It’s a weird feeling to do things just because I feel like doing them.
A few years ago, I discovered that I like to write. and even though it seemed impossible at the time, I got my MFA in creative writing, and even won a couple of writing prizes along the way, while maintaining a full-time university faculty position and founding an award-winning quartet that played in venues ranging from Carnegie Hall to federal prisons. After finishing my MFA, I won a Fulbright grant, to work on a project combining my two main interests – music and writing – in Seoul, Korea.
Though this adventure of blending two creative practices hasn’t been easy, I’m learning a lot about myself and how to be creatively courageous, even when I’m unsure about the outcome. My hope is that this blog will serve as a window into my experiments and perhaps move you to seek out your own forays into creativity that could help enhance and inspire your work.