It seems the journey of the second CD is very nearly over. If I was Frodo, I’d have thrown the ring away and now I just have to wend my way back to the Shire. I know it’s really dangerous to say it’s ‘nearly there’, but I think it is.

The tracks have now all been edited and mixed – and everyone is happy with them. I’ve listened to these things more times than I would have liked, which is not many. I don’t like to listen to my recorded playing. I only hear the faults, and start spiraling into negativity. I don’t see the roses – only the thorns. But that’s just me. Ben (who has done the editing) has lived with this music for the last four months, and he’s happy with everything. David is delighted with the whole thing (note to self – I must try to be more like that!). The art work is beautiful, and ready to go. That was, again, my favourite job. I love seeing the process of Klara’s creativity. She has done the art on both of my CDs now. It’s quite remarkable….

The codes for the tracks have been bought. (Did you know there are these codes that are embedded into a CD s your computer knows what they are? Now you do…) The bar code has been purchased. Royalties have been worked out and paid. Financial agreements have been worked out.

It’s been a more pleasant process than the first CD I did a few years ago. I knew what I was in for this time – and, being the control freak I am, I have controlled everything. Budgets, schedules – the lot. It was like controlling a room full of toddlers – but they are all nearly grown-up and can be sent to big school.

What’s left? The tracks need to be mastered (it’s like turning them into what will be burned onto a CD). The timings of the tracks need to be added to the art for the CD. We need to send the disc off to the printers. And then I wait for the finished product.

And then it’s done. I’m back in the Shire with my pipe and ale. ‘Dreaming with Daisy’ goes out into the world. If you don’t like how it sounds, it’ll make a beautiful drinks coaster….

I have had a few strange things happen to me over the last month or so, and I’ve realised what has happened. Egos have got in the way.

Being a performer is a funny thing. You see, you walk onto some kind of ‘stage’ and you have to believe that what you are about to say (musically, or otherwise) is worth other people paying to listen to. It takes a fair amount of self-belief and self-confidence. And then people clap, and congratulate you, and want to talk to you, and so for a small amount of time, you feel very loved, and validated, and important.

And then everyone goes away. And you are just normal-old-you again.

As a concert organiser, sometimes you have to be really firm about what you will do, and remind people that you won’t teach-as-well-for-nothing, or perform-for-their-worthy-cause-for-nothing-because-you-have-to-pay-the-rent, and I think sometimes I am perceived as a bit of a problem.

So where does a I’m-just-trying-to-make-a-living stop and now-I’m-actually-being-a-prick start?

You see, I think sometimes performers forget that people don’t always love them, and their way is not always right, and what comes out of their mouth is not always the most important thing to listen to right now (actually, come to think of it, I know a few ex-principals who are like that too…).

In Timor there is a great saying – ‘We all need to eat the same sort of rice.’ I like it. I also like that the kids I teach remind me that they don’t give two hoots who I am on the weekend, and how many people I’ve played to. They just want a good music lesson.

But I seem to have stumbled over a few monsters over the last few weeks. I hope that I am not like that to others. It’s a good lesson to learn for me…..

I was talking to a friend of mine yesterday – someone who I respect a great deal. She’s an artist, and when you walk into her house, it’s like walking into an art gallery. The walls of her converted warehouse are full of art (both hers and other people’s) and the house is a riot of colour, candles, books, records (yes – records) and a contented cat. I love the place.

I also love her, and her husband. They are both quite wacky, and choose to live slightly differently from society. Not hugely, but just a bit.

And I like this  lot. I find it refreshing, and inspiring.

It’s hard, as a ‘creative’, to know how to fit in. Do you completely shun normality? Or do you live with normalness on your own terms?

And then I take this line of thinking and hold it up to my cello playing.

Do I play this in the way it’s always been played? If I do what’s the point of playing it again? Some people would say ‘Oh, but you’ll play it slightly differently to insert name of musician here, because you are a different person’. Possibly right. But is that enough? And if I choose to play it differently, when does playing it differently just become artistic onanism, or disrespectful to the composer? Am I playing it differently just for the sake of doing just that?

The classical music word is full of tradition. Sometimes I find it stifling. Actually, a lot of the time, I find it stifling. It takes courage and a lot of strength to walk down a slightly different path. One needs very thick skin, and very broad shoulders. And bloodymindedness. Someone I loved once said to me ‘ Break as many rules as you can, but don’t hurt anyone. And if you get caught, own up immediately.’

But back to my friend (remember her? She’s from the start of this post…). She said to me yesterday ‘I was re-listening to the CD of yours with the accordion yesterday. You know why I like it so much? It’s completely different from anything else we own. And that’s why I’ll keep listening to it.’

I had a crappy day yesterday, full of frustrations and a faulty hard-drive. But that comment made my day.

Note to self – keep breaking rules. Just don’t hurt anyone else.

No…. it’s not what you think. I am not writing about Schubert, Mozart, Beethoven or Schumann (or any others on that long list…).

I am totally fine talking to audiences. I think it started when I used to busk in Covent Garden, years ago. Also, I stand up in front of groups of children of varying sizes a number of times a week. So talking in public is quite ok (I have nightmares about other things, but not speaking in public).

I start every concert with a list of things to say – turn off mobile phones (why this needs to be said, I don’t understand, but there we are. Why don’t people just turn these damn things off more?), please don’t unwrap sweets, if you are in my line of sight please don’t fan yourself – and I’ve added a new one.

There are no real rules about clapping.

So many people seem to be worried about this. And this sentence seems to give them permission to just relax. I feel a collective sigh of relief from any audience I have said this in front of. The tension seems to disappear. Why did Classical music concerts get so stuffy? No performer I know really minds if people clap – or not.

I would rather you came to a concert, and clapped when you wanted (as long as I wasn’t playing), and really enjoyed yourself, rather than not come because you were worried about this.

So to anyone who is reading this, who worries about clapping – I apologise. I apologise on behalf of the classical musical establishment who has made you worried about this issue. We are stuffy, us musos. Pay us no attention. Clap when you please, as long as no-one is bowing, blowing, hitting, strumming or singing.

This music is meant to be enjoyed.

The other day I was out with someone who said to me “You haven’t blogged for ages!”. I didn’t realise that anyone actually read these posts, but I’ll try and write more regularly. (OK – I’ll admit it. It was my mother. She’s probably the only person who reads this. Mum, I’m doing what you told me to do. What a good daughter….. well, sometimes.)

So – what’s been happening? Well, 2016 is a different year for me. I spent January recording a CD with my dear friend, former teacher and one of my favourite musicians to work with, David Pereira. We were in the middle of rural NSW, in the middle of a heat-wave. I hate recording – I find it really stressful, but actually, it wasn’t too bad. We had a grant from the Australia Council to cover most of it, so the financial pressure was off. I knew the music inside-out. The space was quirky and quiet and anything else that starts with ‘Q’. And David was lovely to record with. I’ve since heard a track as it’s been edited. Actually, it sounds really beautiful. I’m quietly excited…

I’m in two schools regularly teaching. One is in inner-Sydney. The kids are tough. The staff are incredible. And I love it. And another school I go to is in western NSW. The kids are easier – although tremendously excited every time I’m there (some of them have been known to tremble at the start of a music lesson – not from fear either!). And I love those staff too – they are also fabulous. I was in another school last year, but after a long time there, I moved on. Now, looking back, it was the right thing to do for so many reasons.

And I have lots of concerts coming up – and some really exciting things in the pipeline. The regular ‘Bach in the Dark’ concerts. Some special events at various places that haven’t quite fallen into place. But the performing year is shaping up to be a good one!

But the best thing about 2016? Well, there are two things that excite me enormously at the moment. One is my soda stream. I have ALL the soda water I want. For not-much-money-at-all. How good it that? The other is a particularly fabulous pair of flares. Crochet. Oh yes. They are excellent.

So…. Mum – I’ve blogged. And anyone else who has got this far. I’ll do it more – well, that’s the plan.Now off to fill up my glass with fizzy water.