Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pregnant Reed Making

One of the musical areas that have really been affected by being pregnant has been my reed making; to be honest, this has been a HUGE surprise for me. I guess I expected my playing to be affected, because it just seems logical, but reed making isn’t really that much more physically demanding than sitting in a chair. Turns out that it’s actually one of the most exhausting things that I do on a daily basis.
Most days when I get up from working my hips are pretty stiff, and if I’ve pushed myself past my physical and mental boundaries (this happens more frequently than I should admit) I have a lot of difficulty walking normally. To the point that my husband notices and comments on the physical changes that reed making seems to be having on me. When I push too hard, pretty much the only thing that helps is to take a warm bath.
To combat this, I’ve had to learn to get up and move around every 30 to 45 minutes while I’m working. I play with the dogs (they think pregnancy is having a positive effect!) walk around a little, get a drink, go to the bath room, etc. You’re probably thinking that this shouldn’t be that difficult to accomplish, but I’m used to working on reeds for 3-4 hours at a time and MAYBE taking one break. I’m hoping that having to do this while I’m pregnant will translate into healthier reed making habits after the baby is born.
Moving around during reed making sessions is actually helping with the other pregnancy related problem: Pregnancy Brain. I have NEVER been this distracted while making reeds. The whole time I’m working, I’m completely distracted by thoughts of sitting on the couch, reading magazines or books, surfing the internet and watching TV. Without much effort, my brain can convince me that it’s not really that important to stay and work on reeds. The small breaks really help me commit to staying focused for shorter periods of time.
Making reeds during pregnancy has definitely been a learning experience for me. It’s not just about dealing with my own mental and physical reactions. Sometimes the baby gets tired of me being in the same sitting position and she kicks in protest, which is incredibly distracting. Most of the time being kicked is a happy feeling, but during a reed making session it’s just one more thing taking up some of my focus. I’m learning to cope with the changes, and I’m sure that there are more coming in the future, but for now I feel like I’m starting to make some headway. I would love to hear from other reed makers about what worked for them, both in pregnancy and afterwards. Happy (focused) reed making!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

A return and some changes...

It's been almost a year since my last post and many things have happened to me in that time. When I began this blog, I had many goals and dreams that I was on the verge of tackling. Within a few weeks of starting it, I found out I was being challenged for my chair in our local symphony. For the next few months I stopped all "extra" work and just prepared for the audition. That included my dreams, goals and this blog. I know now that that was a mistake, because I lost the audition.

It had been a very long time since I lost at anything and it hit me hard. I realize now that I was depressed, but I didn't see it at the time. Everything suffered: my studio, personal, my personal life, my relationships and my motivation for tackling new projects. I decided not to quit the symphony, but the first concert after a summer of avoiding my feelings was really tough. I still feel that it was the right decision to not quit. I feel so much more empathy for my students now when they fall short of their goals than I did before, and I think it has made me a stronger teacher.

On top of trying to heal emotionally after failure, my husband and I decided to start trying for our first baby. We found out that I was pregnant soon afterward and we are expecting our daughter in May. I'm incredibly excited about the baby, but being pregnant has really affected my reed making, teaching and playing. I'm learning ways to cope with my exhaustion and physical changes, but things are certainly different than they used to be. I'm hoping that I can share some of those coping skills here. Being a pregnant wind player isn't something that you hear people talk about very much, and I think it'd be great to have a resource with other people's experiences on the subject.

If anything, the last year has taught me to stop waiting for the stars to align before I get going with new projects. There is never going to be the perfect time, where everything is just right, and it all goes off without a hitch. My (professional) goals for this year are to learn how to balance my baby and oboe, take on more students, start selling reeds online and write on this blog at least twice a week. Will I achieve all of them? Maybe, maybe not, but it all starts now with the circumstances that I'm dealing with. No more waiting around for the ideal environment.                                                                                                  
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