Enjoy a healthy, balanced life and abundant musical success.

Become the powerful artist you are meant to be!

November 29, 2016

I haven’t written about this before, because it has seemed too personal. But being a musician…an artist…a human being……is PERSONAL.

carnegie-hall-backI have been striving for MANY years to integrate all aspects of my self, and that includes my work.

Many people believe in separating “work” from “play”. People talk about leaving the work at the office…. leaving business out of our personal lives.

That works if you want it to be that way, but that means you’re creating a division in your life. That may be good and necessary at times.

But artists – TRUE artists – can’t really do that…not REALLY…
So I believe.Alexander Technique Cincinnati musicians

Because EVERYTHING that you are as an artist goes into your art, whether you like it or not. Whether you try to hide it or expose it.  Your sound reflects who you are, and there’s just no way around it. Music exposes the heart.

My work is my art. My work is play. My work is what makes me happy, and what makes me happy enlivens and beautifies my work.

Sometimes, life is not easy. Sometimes it’s dreadfully hard. People die. People get sick. People suffer. Relationships end, and people are lonely. Many people have barely enough of what is necessary to survive. Wars and terror happen. Natural disasters strike.

An artist knows that all of our suffering… that “stuff of life”… needs to go into our art, just like the “good stuff”. It really IS all or nothing. And that kind of all-consuming devotion to our art is what saves us and brings hope to the world, because it expresses the truth. It’s REAL.

Credit: Hosam Katan/Reuters
Credit: Hosam Katan/Reuters

Nathan Milstein, one of the greatest violinists of all time, and with whom I was fortunate enough to spend five summers studying as a teenager, had his violin around him all the time – just close enough to pick it up and figure out the next thing he was working on. He was always experimenting. Always trying out new fingerings, new bowings, new ways to shape a phrase.

I am a violinist. A musician. A mind-body expert who practices the Alexander Technique, which I consider an essential ingredient to creating my art. Practicing it is an art in itself. I call it practicing my “Primary Instrument”, which is myself – the self that I bring to everything I do. It’s with me all the time.

So my life is my art, and I participate in its creation in a sense, because I am aware that I am making choices that shape my life in every moment. Each and every choice is important, because it leads me to the next moment – the next note in my life.

307155_512725698747965_1440730856_nI’ve spoken recently about the extreme stress in my life these days. Without prayer/meditation (which for me is an act of opening myself up to something bigger and more powerful than myself for support and guidance), without the Alexander Technique, and without the presence of those close to me who love me daily, I would be sunk.

I’m going through a long and difficult divorce after 25 years of marriage (I was very young), and my younger son is ill again, with no help whatsoever forthcoming from doctors (please don’t ask, but your moral support is welcome), and I am facing life on my own for the first time in my life, as an artist who doesn’t make much money and is pretty clueless about supporting myself in the world.

That’s the truth. Time to grow up. LOTS to learn – and quick. With patience, and without rushing. Very much like a college student who hasn’t graduated yet, I’m looking at what my options are, and wondering what next month will bring. Except that I’ve got a million responsibilities, including two teenagers who need me.

It takes all the courage in the world to have a clear vision for the future, and to keep sticking to principle, keeping myself healthy and sane despite the stress. In fact, when I manage it well, I actually THRIVE under the pressure – even though I “lose it” sometimes, just like anybody else.

I can honestly say that the difficulty I’m experiencing these days is(and I chuckle at the irony as I write this!) the best thing that’s ever happened to me.

IT SURE DOESN’T FEEL THAT WAY BECAUSE IT FEELS PRETTY DARNED AWFUL RIGHT NOW!!! (The scared and hurt part inside of me screams…..!)

But I know that it is. I know that in a few years I’ll look back and say, WOW, it’s amazing how a period of such difficulty did me so much good, in every way!

I just KNOW it.

And that faith keeps me going, and allows me to laugh and smile, feeling the hope that hides behind the clouds.


The Alexander Technique is an essential resource for me. It reminds me to STOP, OBSERVE, AND ACT:

STOP everything I’m doing that’s unhelpful, especially when I’m overwhelmed and just can’t handle things anymore, because it’s all too much to bear

OBSERVE that I am very small and powerless (which confers a necessary humility which opens me up to the infinite All-Possible, through prayer or meditation)

ACT on what I know, by sticking to Principle. My personal principles, and universal principles, including those of the Alexander Technique. To do what is possible RIGHT NOW, and only RIGHT NOW.

I remember my Freedom Directions: “I am free”, “I don’t have to do anything,” and “I have time and space”, and I pay attention to Ease and my head-neck relationship. And things get easier… INSTANTLY.

Tears are the stuff of good music. So is laughter. I am grateful for both, throughout this difficult time. Grateful for love and light, and for the pressures that only serve to make me stronger, with Grace.

So you see… everything I experience goes into my art. I am not interested in separation. I am interested in unity. Love, not fear.

Mind + Body + Soul + Spirit + Others + World + Play + Work = ME

The Self is all I’ve got, and it’s everything. This is what gets shared through my music, and this is what gets shared through what I write here. That’s why I don’t take much time to edit what I write, by the way. You get it all – including typos when I miss them. 😉

Life isn’t always easy, and that’s OK. It’s what we choose to do with it when we remember that matters. And by writing and making music, I make it easier for myself, and I bring myself a smile of light from the darkness. Hopefully, also for you, my readers and listeners, and fellow human beings.

With Love,


p.s. Your comments here are always very welcome. I love the personal connection. 🙂

p.p.s. Written later on the same day…
I made a commitment at the beginning of the week to start practicing every day again. It was 11:30pm when I finally took out my violin, and decided to play through the opening of Mozart’s 5th concerto, a  piece I haven’t played in many, many years (maybe 26?). My younger son video recorded my run-through for me. Here’s the result, memory slips and all… after a very exhausting day. Music is magical… The world needs it sorely. At least I do! 🙂

Here’s the link:


Alexander Technique, all-possibility, doubt, life, Pain, purpose, suffering, wellness

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  1. I’m so very sorry to hear this friend. I very much enjoyed our (albeit short) time together. Life, sadly, has shook out in a way in which I don’t get to see you weekly anymore. Despite our short time together and lack of proximity, I’d like you to know that I think of you often and will be praying for you. I hope some healing is brought into your life. I’m sorry that you are experiencing the brokenness of this world. If our paths cross again, and you need a friend to drink coffee with you, I hope you always feel comfortable asking. Be well, and hopefully I’ll see you at the Rec center next semester!

    1. Thank you, Joe, it’s so nice to hear from you, and I very much appreciate your warm words! On re-reading my post a couple hours later, I hope it wasn’t too dark. Writing is often my way of working through the darkness everyone steps into from time to time…and I know what I’m experiencing is not unique and that writing about it has the potential to help others going through a rough spot, too. And “this too shall pass”… I’m already smiling more now than I was this morning. 🙂 Alexander Technique is a life-saver, and the best thing I know for musicians, hands down, for sure! Hope to see you also. Thanks again!

  2. It is funny how often I think about you and what you teach with AT. I play a cello and never even started my practice challenge. Yes life gets in the way while we are making other plans.
    My point is that in spite of your personal difficulty right now, you are impacting others in such a positive way. That good karma is going to benefit you in some way. Take care.

  3. Written later on the same day…
    I made a commitment at the beginning of the week to start practicing every day again. It was 11:30pm when I finally took out my violin, and decided to play through the opening of Mozart’s 5th concerto, a piece I haven’t played in many, many years (maybe 26?). My younger son video recorded my run-through for me. Here’s the result, memory slips and all… after a very exhausting day. Music is magical… The world needs it sorely. At least I do! 🙂

    Here’s the link:

  4. Hello, and thank you for sharing your world with us. I have been where you are and everyday will put you closer to finding your way. I’m 6 years out and so much happier than I was before starting this journey. Keep taking care of yourself and your kids, and the pieces will slowly fall into place. Loved your practice piece. Beautiful! I’ll be following and here when you need encouragement. ❤️

    1. It is so heartening to hear from others who have gone through a similar experience and come out better for it on the other end! Thanks so much for writing and sharing your warmth – much appreciated! All best wishes, Deanna! <3

  5. Thanks Jennifer for your transparency… actually, one cannot even be a fine musician without ‘it’. transparency I mean. So it’s no wonder you are a very fine and sensitive artist. I pray for you in this difficult time. I have been there… there is light after this storm…
    Pain is surely part of the life process…
    Just look at the greats that wrote the music we strive to bring to life with our instruments. We all know of Beethoven’s angst re: his hearing loss… Bach had many children who died at very young ages… the list goes on… As for moi? I have had to cope with bi-polar my entire adult life, thankfully I am finally on the right med that has really helped… but there were many days in my life that I wasn’t sure if I could cope anymore… BTW, if any is reading this, and you suffer from bi-polar, and need want encouragement… I am here. I think it’s fairly well known that Gustav Mahler suffered from this illness as well. You can hear it in his 5th Symphony. Would it have been as magnificent had he not? Anyway, I feel sharing our pain with each other makes us all stronger. So, thanks again and blessings. greg

    PS: MY above website for Cabrillo Chamber Orchestra above is currently under re-construction.

    1. Greg, your comment moves me. Thank you so much for taking the time to write, and for your vulnerability in sharing the difficulties you’ve gone through, too. I agree that sharing our pain with each other makes us all stronger, and it is so heartening to be reminded during hard times that we are not alone. Taking the risk to share our darkness takes courage, but in my experience it has ALWAYS been worth doing because it always touches and helps people in unexpected ways. Thanks also for the reminder that great musicians and artists of all kinds have had to suffer… for sure! I think it’s what makes their art all the more exquisite. Vincent Van Gogh always comes to my mind as another example. Thanks again for writing, and for your prayers. I know that every prayer has a positive effect on the world! May you have a beautiful day, and may your music-making be ever-more transparent, too. 🙂

  6. Hi Jennifer,

    I just read your post and wanted to let you know that I am so sorry that you’re having such difficult things to deal with this year. I had no idea! You sound so positive and that’s the best attitude you can have. You will get through this and you will come out better on the other side! If you ever need someone to talk to or just to hang out with for a while, I’m here. (If you ever have TIME is more like it—I know how busy you must be!) I hope you can feel the big hug I’m sending you in this note, and I will keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers.


  7. Jennifer, Lots of prayers going your way. You bring much joy and peace to so many. There is a lot of support out there for you. Kathleen

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