The end of another Amstel Quartet tour to the US. I am on the plane right now. The second flight of a 21 hour trip from Alaska to Amsterdam. While I am writing this, I am looking at the desktop image on my Powerbook. A screenshot of a Skype conversation with my son Saúl during our spring tour. This tour we didn't have enough moments to Skype, unfortunately. I will see him, and my girlfriend in about 9 hours from now. As I wrote before, tours are the only moment I can really detach and let go. I have no deadlines, no phonecalls, etcetera. But coming back, I realize that 'normal' life is coming back. I am a bit nervous.
At home a lot of work is waiting for me. The biggest thing of course is the award ceremony for the Netherlands Music Prize in two weeks, for which I still have to finalize my knowledge of the scores. In between I have some interviews and in two (!) days a recording for the Dutch television show, 'Vrije Geluiden', with different repertoire. And in the mean time, my quartet keeps going like it always does. We are even finishing editing our newest CD 'Amstel Raga' with Niti Ranjan Biswas. All really great and fun stuff. Exactly what I wanted to do when I decided to become a professional musician. But I think nobody could have prepared for the work it takes to keep up with all of these different activities, maintaing a high musical and instrument technical level and f course managing most of my activities myself. Although I am very glad I have found a great manager half a year ago. He is taking a lot of work out of my hands so I can focus on the content, my music.
In the end everything always works out for the best, and I enjoy everything I do at the moment itself.
One of the most important lessons I have learned is that I have gained enough experience to make everything work out with less time than before. I can trust myself more nowadays. I will do the work I need to do more intuitively than before. I remember an interview with Jaap van Zweden and I believe Emmy Verhey I saw years ago. The interviewer asked the violinists how they still improved. They both answered that they learn easier and faster. Even with my bad hand I realize that I am going through the same thing. Music becomes less and less about studying, technical things, and more and more a part of myself, an expression my personality, my feelings. To find the balance between a healthy life and the hard work I still need to do, obviously can be difficult sometimes.
When I asked Kenny Werner (author of the great book 'Effortless Mastery') when you know you have studied enough, he said: ""When you can let go of the notes a hundred percent.""