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Margo Cunningham, Marketing Coordinator 

RETURNING TO MUSIC  

When we were young, life was full of new beginnings and fresh starts. Each year we could reinvent ourselves with an ease that now so often seems unfamiliar and out of reach. There were a multitude of activities to peruse and pursue, the options varied, our hobbies never ending.

In one way or another, we chose something. We picked a lane and set sail for the future that lay before us. We picked a career, a city, a partner, a pet. We planted seeds and hung photos on the inside of our hearts. We became more grounded by the day.  Every so often we make a switch, we do! We make the move, we take the class, we embrace uncertainty… but our points of change take significant gumption and drive. We store up for 2-3 years before acting upon them and, even then, the familiarity of the life we’ve built can so often feel like home to fall back on.

When did you last dust off an instrument, sit down, and play? Was it in 8th grade band before you decided to continue with karate instead? Was it your collegiate senior recital? Have you yet to pick up an instrument, but always felt the drive to do so? Starting something new as an adult can be intimidating… but it doesn’t have to be.
Because you won’t be doing it alone.  

ADULT MUSICIANS AT LEVINE

It’s unknown to many that a third of students at Levine are made up of adult musicians. At Levine, adults discover that music provides a focused, reflective space, and the opportunity for greater community connection. The voices of our adult musicians are thoughtful, complex, inspiring, and spectacularly honest.

SPOTLIGHTED MUSICIAN: MELANIE BATES 

Melanie Bates first started lessons with Levine Music on September 9th, 2020 as a returning musician. Having played violin when she was young, Melanie was always on the lookout for the perfect time to resume her practice (something many of us search for but can never seem to find). She says, “I had always wanted to resume playing the violin since quitting when I was young. It brings an amazing sense of balance and purpose to my life.” It wasn’t until after years of searching and circling back to the thought, did Melanie find Levine Music and restart her journey with the violin.

Since her return, Melanie has played in the 2020 Adult Winter Recital and 2021 Adult Spring Recital, participated in Levine Music’s Adult String Retreat and joined the Adult Chamber Orchestra at Levine. “Joining the Levine Music community has been an incredible enhancement to my life. The gracious support of faculty and staff has been remarkable. I can feel the passion; it is more than just a job. In addition, I have been fortunate to connect with a group of adult violinists at Levine Music. We exchange stories about our musical journeys and encourage each other along the way. I am forever grateful for the support,” states Melanie.

In June of 2019, Melanie took to the page and published her first entry of *Overcoming Regret: My Journey to Resume Playing Violin, a personal reflection on Levine and its community (linked below). She has since published seven additional entries to the blog series, spanning from her placement exam all the way through her latest piece titled Filling My Soul. Within this chapter, Melanie writes the following:

“…my journey to resume playing the violin has taken a lot of time, energy, and dedication. There are instances where I wonder whether I have the bandwidth to continue. (But) playing together, trading personal stories, and making plans for our musical future was just what I needed to keep pushing forward. ​The strong sense of comradery filled my soul.”

To those considering revisiting or taking up an instrument, Melanie recommends to, “…just do it! Be patient and take advantage of the invaluable resources Levine Music offers. Always remember why you are doing what you’re doing. That will get you through the lulls and energize you to keep going.”

In speaking with Melanie, and reflecting on my own experience, I’m reminded of a quote by Zora Neale Hurston; “I do not know whether you ever went down to the Matanza River in your pigtail days to fish and caught a toad fish. You know if they are swallowed by a big fish, they will eat their way out through the walls of its stomach. That is like the call the write. You must do it irregardless, or it will eat its way out of you anyhow.

When we let ourselves feel it, once and a while, that is what the call to music feels like, too. 

We hope to see you soon!

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If you have never played an instrument before, are continuing on your lifelong journey of music-making or want to become a part of a community of like-minded music lovers, Levine Music has an opportunity for you. Levine’s Adult Programs serve all ages and levels of ability; with daytime and evening courses and flexible lesson scheduling available year-round, you are certain to find a program to fit your musical interests. Join us today. 

https://www.levinemusic.org/lessons-and-classes/areas-of-study/adults/

*My Journey to Resume Playing Violin: https://www.melaniebates.net/blog 

Celebrating Melanie’s Return to the Violin:

Photo courtesy of Melanie’s Blog

Melanie Bates, Adult Musician