So what’s up, Buttercup?

It’s the start of a new time for me, I think. The last two years have been a challenge, in so many ways. Like for so many of us – I know I’m not alone in that regard.

Actually, the last three months have been possibly mentally the hardest. I am tired. Bone tired. Teaching is hard at the moment – ask any teacher, and they’ll agree. Kids are challenging – many young ones have lost their social skills. Sharing is hard for them. Tantrums are numerous. Tears are frequent. Older ones have missed out on certain learning things. Teachers are getting sick, and relief teachers are hard to source, so there’s often a lot of weird behaviours in classes I see as kids try and rule the roost for a day with a relief teacher that doesn’t really know them. Teachers are tired. And often wary as they do their job – is this child a close contact of someone with COVID? Am I going to get sick from them? In one school I’m in, the school community is dealing with grief – a member of the school family died suddenly. It’s shocking, and tragic, and it’s left us all feeling very raw. And through all this, I have taught. I have watched the power of music make children smile, and laugh, and forget a bit of what’s going on. It’s made me more sure of what I do, but also drained me.

And I’ve kept playing the cello – but concert management at the moment is also draining me. There’s a huge amount of work that goes into not just working out a program, and practising for a concert -but the huge amount of admin that needs to happen. Setting up ticketing links. Publicity. Dealing with emails. Taking a deep breath before you reply to an email that isn’t particularly kind (do people wonder about the tone of what they write, I wonder?). I don’t want this to take over the feeling I have when I play. I still want to love playing, and love creating – so it’s time to step back for a bit, I think.

BUT I am interested in recording some things. Pieces I’ve played that have been written for me. Pieces that audiences have really loved. Pieces that I’ve loved. My playing is in really great shape, so it seems like the thing to do at this point. There’s new repertoire I’d like to learn. And hard repertoire – things that take time. And I can’t do that when I’m gearing up for performing. I need to get excited by pieces again. Get excited by unpeeling music I’ve not yet met.

And I need some time to cook up some new projects. Some head space to think. To wonder about things. To explore new ideas, and new musical friendships.

I also need some time to get back to the yoga studio more often. To swim. To sit and share meals with friends. I’m hugely grateful to be able to have kept performing – massively grateful. But now, instead of being a cellist and a teacher, I need to get back to being Rachel. Rachel the person, who also happens to be a musician.