I go and have regular massages. It’s a wonderful thing for me – not only has it fixed my back (like most cellists, I often have a sore lower back), but also undoes things in my arm muscles (and shoulders) from lots of playing. And most importantly for me, my brain switches off. I can think of nothing else. I visit a wonderful massage therapist – he used to be a professional dancer, and we often talk about performing and the discipline it involves – the conversation weaves around all kind of things arts-wise.
I’ll just side-step for a bit….. I have a live-stream concert coming up that means a great deal to me. It’s a tribute concert to someone who was really important to me – both as a person, and as a musician. I am playing most pieces in this concert by the composer Martin Wesley-Smith. And these pieces are hard. For many reasons. Some of them are just technically difficult. Some are difficult because I have to sing and play. One has a very complicated backing track I need to know inside-out. There are difficult rhythms. Difficult time-signatures. And every so often, I miss Martin terribly. I marvel at what he’s musically done, I laugh at the jokes – and then I feel very sad. But right now, I don’t want to be playing anything else. I love this music. I want to play this concert – and play it the best I can. But it’s draining. I am practising early in the morning, and late in the evening to fit around teaching. I am giving up spending time with friends. I feel like I am working all the time. I am anxious about it. I am having to be extraordinary disciplined – even for me.
So back to me chatting to my massage therapist. I was telling him about this. And he summed it up perfectly. “It’s a labour of love, isn’t it? But it’s still a labour….”
Yes. Totally. I wouldn’t have it any other way. But boy, it’s a slog at the moment.