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Forte: There is satisfaction in action

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Josh Gianola, Yakima Symphony Orchestra principal percussion and YSO teaching artist with Yakima Music en Acción.

Music has empowered and shaped nearly every aspect of who I am. Most of my friends are musicians, most of my time is spent listening to or practicing music, and practically all of my habits are manufactured to enable a future fueled by music. Soooooo what happens now?

Many (most) performances have been canceled. There are no posted auditions anywhere in the world until 2021. Live, in-person music is experiencing a long pause that has caused me to ask: “Wait ... what am I practicing for?”

While the answer used to be so simple and clear, practice is very much a tool to facilitate meaningful performances. Without performances, am I mostly a sourdough-bread-baker who used to play music? At this I stamp my foot defiantly and say, “NO!”

My favorite new thing is using Zoom to practice together with other musicians. Every morning my wife and I virtually meet a small group of like-minded musicians and put in the work. It’s called “Violin Breakfast” — because it was her idea — and it ebbs and flows. Some days it’s a large group of people, other days it’s only a couple of us. However, psychologically it helps an enormous amount, no matter the group size. The implicit social layer to music making that we are all missing so much; that’s the dessert.

I’ve found this to be beneficial in other areas of life as well. It’s not uncommon to have a “gym buddy,” but in our current world both gyms and buddies are pretty much not an option. Instead of exercising “with” someone, I’ll exercise at the same time as a friend. Afterward, my friend and I text each other Fitbit information and nerd out over the statistics of our workouts. The added friendship dusting to an otherwise mundane task applies at least a small amount of pressure on both of us to keep showing up. So far so good.

Honesty with your body and taking care of your mental health are of paramount importance during this time. A missing aspect of pre-corona times is external forces urging one to stick to those beneficial routines that make us healthier, stronger and better at what we do. I find that I need that activity, and if you do, too, I encourage you to reach out to your friends for help. You may find that you get an enormous amount of satisfaction in action.

Oh, and if you’re a regular concertgoer, I miss you and can’t wait to play for you again!

• Josh Gianola is principal percussion for the Yakima Symphony Orchestra. He and others in the symphony write this weekly column for SCENE. Learn more about the YSO at www.ysomusic.org.

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