Returned to the US in late February for a 16-day trip, just 2 months after coming home to Singapore, mainly to attend ASTA 2018. I wasn't going to fly 16 hours halfway around the globe and return even before i've recovered from jet-lag so there... a lengthy trip which was faced by..... "but didn't you just come back?!?"
It wasn't a trip I would call a "holiday" for travelling and experiencing the world. It was however for me an ideal trip where I got to work for hours undistracted, without having the need to tend to this, attend that meeting, but at the same time also focus on chilling and spending time with friends without any real constraints.
When I was booking air tickets from SF to ATL and realised that it would actually be cheaper to stop over at DEN for a couple of days, I jumped at the opportunity. What's better than cheaper flights + being able to hang out with my favourite family in Colorado for a couple of days. Cue binge watching of TV, spending quality time with the folks, and getting a whole bunch of work out of the way.
Time in SF was also spent chilling with friends amidst the long uninterrupted days of working. Since the weather was atrocious when I visited and we couldn't go hiking like we initially planned to, we spent a lot of time hanging out indoors chilling and chatting, playing board games and cooking!
As I grow older and transition out of school/work life into an entirely working life, I've come to appreciate the existence of a work-life balance much more. Work never ends. Practice never ends. It was always a hard choice to choose anything other than work or practice previously - I've dragged myself to school after throwing up for the entire night, or worked without any breaks the entire year and hardly even seeing friends or family. I guess now I'm in a different phase of life, where I'm seriously just going to take a nap if I was ill, or truly focus on being in the moment with friends and family without worrying about how much work or practice I have yet to do.
ASTA 2018 was an amazing experience, perhaps in a different way it was for the past 2 years. Being surrounded by like-minded music educators at the conference always rejuvenates me. Seeing everyone trying their best for their students and their communities and the spirit of sharing knowledge and experiences never fail to inspire me. Sometimes as music educators we constantly working with students, we give our all to our students, to their parents, to the community and the team. While we are passionate, ideas do run dry, we as humans do get burnt out as well and being at a conference often enables me to receive incredibly positive energy and gives me strength once again.
Perhaps this year was also special for a few reasons. I got to hang out with friends I studied alongside at Colorado-Boulder, friends I haven't seen for more than 5 years, but yet feel comfortable being around! I got to be inspired by Erika Eckert, viola professor at CU-Boulder once again. Erika is one of those meticulous and thoughtful teachers, always curious and exploring new techniques, new ways of thinking about music, new ways to practice and always enthusiastic to share her new findings and thoughts with her students. I've learnt so much from her during my years at Boulder, having had countless of chamber music coachings with her and I'm once again reminded to keep learning, exploring and always having an open mind.
CU folks (Adrian and Kate) taking a wefie with Erika Eckert at ASTA 2018
And of course I got to catch up with my amazing DMA committee members, people I am eternally grateful for, whose constant support in the work I do always pushes me further than I ever thought possible. At the same time I often also do feel really undeserving of everything I've been given. Anyhow, what's better than getting your teacher take a wefie?!