Hello There! I thought I might take this opportunity to explain how and why I came up with the handle ActiveViolinist (if you follow me on social media) and www.activeviolinist.com as my website address. Seems weird right?
First off, why don't I just use my name? Hannah Murray is so simple and straightforward!...and unfortunately very very taken by a super famous British Actress, a highly sought after make up artist, and an amateur Romance novelist. Clearly the name is a winner but in a Google search a violinist is pretty much the last topic to show up when competing with such hot items as new eye shadow trends, Game of Thrones (yes the actress Hannah Murray is THAT famous), and steamy love scenes. So I thought hard about what I am all about and came up with The Active Violinist.
But why Active Violinist? Why not Redhead, or Midwestern, or Book Nerd, or (fill in the blank) Violinist?
Active is a great word. It applies to the vast majority of my life (excluding the pre-coffee part of the day) and has a multi faceted connotation. Not to mention a really great ring to it.
....like really active. Like train for half marathons, and dabble in triathlons, and (once upon a time) Full marathons kind of active. You know - Run crazy 200-mile relay race active. Take part in Yoga challenges active. Commit to Amanda Bisk's 12-week Fresh Body Fit Mind challenge type of active. I like to move my body. I like to push my limits. I like to use physical activity to harness my mental capacity and vice versa. Being Physically Active is one guaranteed way to feel good. Maybe not during, but definitely afterwards your body says a big huge THANK YOU! I encourage all of my students to participate in sports, dance, take yoga, swim, ride their bike, and do something regularly that is physical. A healthy body is a must for violin playing. I absolutely believe that.
I am actively aware of my physical health and well being. I care what I eat and where it came from. Don't get me wrong - I (actively) indulge as well. But keeping a well maintained machine, aka your body is essential to pursuing ones interests, championing life's challenges and bettering yourself both professionally and personally. Do not turn a blind eye to the quality of nutrients you fuel your body and mind with. Actively pursue your own health! Beware of fancy fixes and short term success - I mean this in terms of physical health and also as it applies to playing the violin. Commit yourself to an active, healthy lifestyle.
An Active Performer
I am an active performer. I play in just about every regional orchestra possible, as a chamber musician, and as a recitalist. It is important to stay active professionally. I do my best to create and carve out performance opportunities in as many contexts as possible. Not only does it keep me busy, it also provides opportunities to (actively) learn new repertoire, collaborate with others and travel. I love that my profession takes me all across the country - and maybe one day the world - as an active interpreter of music. How cool is that?!
An Active Teacher
I am an active teacher. I teach everywhere I can. I teach anyone, and everyone who shows a commitment to learning and musical growth. I teach every day of the week. I use my body physically as a teaching tool to make musical phrases clear, to articulate technical points, and to motivate students to move out of their comfort zone. As Itzhak Perlman recently posted (on Facebook) "When I teach others I teach myself" - this could not be more true! Being an active teacher means I am also an active student.
An Active Student
I am an active learner. I am that person who Is always ordering new books. Who is always saying 'did you know....' to my colleagues when I learn something new (usually from my newest book or a podcast). I sign up for reading challenges, I keep my college textbooks, I actually enjoy lectures and going to classes and workshops. I find myself actively pursuing education in a diverse range of topics and fields. There is so much to learn - why stop when school is out?
An Active listener
I am an active listener. I actively pay attention. That means that there is always something tinkering around in my headphones- from Rihanna to Respighi, Sibelius to Sigur Ros, Y music to Yiddish Folk tunes, podcasts to Prokofiev, octets, orchestral, chamber, contemporary....you name it and I dabble in it. Music exists on a continuum. We are fortunate to have access in some capacity to music of all genres, from all eras and a diverse array of performers. Why not create a literally timeless playlist for your life? Music of the present can influence what you like about the past and vice versa. But you will never know if you don't actively seek it out.
I am socially active. As in, I have friends, and a support system in my life. It is important to get out of the practice room or rehearsal space and interact with people. You never know who you will meet! Stay active in your community! It is the best way to infuse neighborhoods, schools, friends, society, and people with music. Infuse your community with music and it becomes second nature to explore and get involved.
An Active Writer
I am an active writer. Okay, maybe this one is a stretch but I'm hoping this blog will really turn into something I pursue more actively. Right now I'm more of a 'wannabe' active writer with lots of thoughts whirring around in my head and not nearly enough time to write them all down!
Did I miss anything? Probably! If you had to sum yourself up in one or two words what would they be? What is the theme or the themes of your life? Any tips and lessons to share on life? On being a musician? On working towards goals? Leave a comment below, I would love to hear from you!