Considering the relationship of practicing and being in isolation

Posted on: August 13, 2020

“To be a musician means accepting a certain form of isolation as a mandate. You spend a lifetime taunting yourself into the practice room,” writes Jennifer Gersten, a violinist, in Sunday’s (8/9) Washington Post. “You have made a bargain: Eventually you will get to share what you have learned with present, listening people. In isolation, however, the terms of that bargain have changed. Quarantine yields to performers what they supposedly need to work: indefinite time at a vast remove…. To have ideas, you need constraints, which for us were the auditions, rehearsals and performances…. I have begun to realize how much I depended on them and how much my relationship with music was predicated on feeling present with others…. In isolation, I have worked on solo repertoire…. There’s no one to witness it. One night, though, I get lucky. There is a toddler on the street who, hearing my Ysaÿe, swings his head from left to right to locate the source of the sound before finally looking up. ‘Hey!’ he yells. He issues a single clap, and I beam as though it is a bouquet.” Gersten also writes about her recent experience practicing and performing after becoming ill at a summer music festival.