Monday, April 30, 2007

Fine Tuning

Many of you probably know or have seen a fiddle or maybe a fine violin, or maybe played one. You use the large pegs for tuning within the range. And the little tiny screws at the bottom, your fine tuners, are what you rely on for getting the thing into pitch, for getting it just right.

A short while ago as I picked up the fiddle to get to know it better and start playing it, my good friend Jawbone told me that it's really ok to use those fine tuners. For some reason, I had been hesitant, trying to tune close to perfect with the pegs and relying on the fine tuners only for the very necessary last half-turn.

Lately I've realized I'm due for a little fine tuning myself.

Getting away for the weekend was truly wonderful, especially spent in the company of friends and family. I wish I could do that more often. Part of me wonders what the right path to that is. Is it to go out on my own once and for all? Get a job with a big anonymous corporation where I can just go through the motions but get a fat paycheck and lots of perks? Or just stay put and make a bigger contribution where I am? Or none of the above?

What is the right balance? Where is my perfect pitch?

This question would be much easier if I hated my job or even felt disconnected from my work. It would also be easier if I was something more places needed, like a lab technician or a salesperson or an accountant. But I really enjoy my work with people, and I know that it adds value to the organizations we serve. And because we work for some pretty wonderful orchestras, my job really does have meaning for me, because it's about helping the people inside organizations that have meaning for me and for many people around the world.

And it helps pay the bills. It doesn't pay them all at once, but it helps. Getting my house in order matters to me this year. Unfortunately, my day of being a grownup was to include this evening a visit by a window estimator, who is now officially a no show, thus sending himself and his very well known and expertly-marketed company to the back of the line. I have so little time as it is, I don't need other people to waste it for me.

I think I just sometimes wish I had more time, that I somehow could string together a few days away without forever having to catch up. Or maybe I just wish I were doing all that work all the time on the stuff I love the most. But I'm not sure I can do that yet.

So in between, I tune. I'll put this article down and pick up the fiddle. I don't know how it will turn out, and maybe I'll find a new line here and there, and maybe I'll move along back over to the mando for a while and try the line there, too. Learning these instruments, like fine tuning a life, is a process of discovery, including missed notes and clumsy fingerings.

Casey Driessen, world traveler and fiddler extraordinaire, probably understands that as well as anyone. So while I tune up, you enjoy this one from Casey, appropriately titled, The Confusion Before Dreams.


At May 02, 2007 8:45 PM, Blogger Blueberry said...

It is so hard to get that work/life stuff in tune, maybe even impossible. It's a constant struggle. I think that fiddling must be good for your brain. It's nice to have such a wonderful outlet. I had a fiddle when I was a kid, also a guitar, both found at Pawn shops or auction. I just am untalented at playing those things or it would have happened. I am really just a frustrated drummer these days. Being able to play the fiddle would be beyond all hopes.

At May 03, 2007 6:15 AM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Thanks, Blueberry. A constant struggle, or just a process. Sometimes it does feel more like struggle.

Drumming! What a wonderful physical expression of music. I love to watch and listen to drumming. Are your feline children into it?

Being able to play fiddle may be beyond all hopes for me, too, but I'm trying to be patient and remind myself I'm not going to be April Verch overnight. Listening to those old Library of Congress recordings of fiddlers like Marcus Martin help bring me back to the basics.

At May 03, 2007 11:11 AM, Blogger Blueberry said...

I don't *actually* drum, I just wish I could, and wish I wasn't afraid to make noise -- hence the frustration. I will never do much more than play "air drums" unless I'm at some event where I'm supposed to bang on something -- which does happen! I'm sure the cats would hate it. They hate harmonicas and whistling. That's for sure. Kazoo is not popular either. I guess we have our quota of caterwauling with them.

At May 04, 2007 6:46 AM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

I 'spect so! Too bad about the kazoo thing, they don't know what they're missing. Maybe they're jealous. I will say, our kitty is not that fond of us making music, but she does play piano from time to time, usually when we least expect it, of course.


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