About cmontparker

Pianist, writer, artist, and teacher

Unexpected Challenges

On December 30th, after two months of misdiagnosis by a pig-headed egomaniac of a pulmonologist, and after two months of my listening to my beloved husband’s rapid shallow breathing, I brought him to the Emergency Room of our hospital, and not a moment too soon. He had, indeed, had a heart attack shortly before that.

What followed were weeks of sheer agony for us both–and now, thank God, he is back at home recuperating.

I am a woman with creative resources, one of the few things I know certainly about myself. The piano has been by constant companion for many years, and not once did I have either the urge or the stamina–emotional or physical to go to the big black presence , beckoning me to its comforts. I find that amazing.

And even after Ernest was out of the woods, my own state of anxiety and limbo persisted, leaking into every part of my life. Only when I was teaching, could I focus on anything else besides the recent trauma. And although I had not made any blog entries during those critical months, I did send group updates to friends and family–partly as  a time and energy-saver, (instead of individual responses), partly as a cathartic.

You find out who your true friends are in many ways. The ones who expressed their presence and concern,  for both of us, will never be forgotten. The few who amazingly interpreted my accounts and descriptions of the stress as “complaints” are already forgotten and chalked off as non-friends. Strangely, in some cases, these unsympathetic recipients of my misplaced confidences, are the same people from whom I have experienced professionally-related disappointments.

In the end, just as there are only two kinds of music—good and bad—there are only two kinds of people: good and bad. Goodness and kindness are traits I value above all others. We are so grateful for my husband’s continuing recovery and our dear ones whose support was critical for us both.

One of the casualties of this period was my intention to prepare the Bach d minor concerto to perform next season after the kind invitation of Richard Hyman, the conductor of the Northport Symphony Orchestra. I realized that I could not handle an ounce more of stress than I was already experiencing, and so I told Richard that I could not take on the Bach project at that point.




Winter Messages

011One of our favorite winter celebrations is the Winter Solstice, going back to pagan times, and the worship of the Sun and Light and Life. The birds, (Eric [and Erica] the Red shown here right outside our front door), are a fine reminder of the struggle to survive, and the triumph of hard work, with a deep understanding of Nature, and a fervent belief that there will be another Spring. We take in boughs of holly and evergreens, without any religious connotations, to fill our lungs with the sweet-smelling greens, and we begin counting the moments of the lengthening days, until our beloved plants and shoots pierce the fresh fertile soil with new growth in just a few months.

Meanwhile, there is work to be done, as the birds know all too well.
This past week, I presented a program, in two consecutive assemblies at a beautiful elementary school, to second and third-graders, on the subjects of Classical Music, fact vs. fiction, various ways of expressing oneself (writing, painting, and in musical language), using my children’s book, Polly and the Piano as the vehicle, and punctuating the talk with child-friendly classical music. Without going into detail, when a little girl stopped by the piano, as her class was filing out, to tell me “Your music was the most beautiful I have ever heard!“, I knew that all the work and energy had paid off. Another child asked me from the audience, “Did you ever hear of Beethoven?” Did I !?? He wanted to tell me that he could play the Ode to Joy !  Oh, Joy!

I am also throwing myself into devesting our abode of excess; from stuff in the basement and attic, to multiple copies of music, which I am giving to students as they need it, to books we don’t need to keep forever, and all sorts of baggage one holds onto, until it accumulates into clutter. I want to pare down, just as Nature does—shedding dead limbs and leaves off of trees, clearing precious space for the growth of the new–in my case ideas and projects. I could never work amidst chaos, and although our living space is quite well-organized, even knowing that there is a meaningless  amount of objects that could possibly be enjoyed by others, crowds my brain, and slows up creativity.

I am also thinking ahead to a performance of the Bach Clavier Concerto in d minor next season, and learning it in a leisurely way so that I can glide right into it when the time comes. The winter darkness is gloomy in many ways, but it is also cozy and concentration-inducing. What else is there to do? A great time for learning and working.spring snow 2011 001

HAPPY WINTER SOLSTICE!!!—We wish you Peace and Light and Joy!