I have always been the creative/artsy type. I started playing the violin when I was three years old, but also dabbled in ballet, figure skating, tap dancing, and TONS of arts and crafts. One of my favorite crafting activities was making creatures out of Sculpy clay (Is that still a thing? I hope so!) I was also incredibly lucky to attend an elementary and middle school that understood the importance of arts education, and was in an incredibly nurturing environment to take playing the violin seriously.
Though I have basically played violin my entire life, I didn't have the "official" dream of becoming a professional musician until my middle school years. My older brother, at that time, was applying for colleges and did plan to pursue music, so seeing him make that career decision definitely influenced me to do the same. I am often asked if my parents are musicians, and the answer is no! My dad is an engineer and my mom was an accountant prior to becoming a boss stay-at-home-mom, so my brother and I have no idea why we were bitten so hard by the music bug!
Have you ever heard the saying "you're only as good as your last performance?" While I tend to disagree with this statement due to the immense pressure it puts on the individual, I can't help but fear it at the same time. The terror of giving a poor performance is tangible and real, and it flows throughout any artist (and isn't even limited to artists!) throughout their career. However, instead of telling myself I'm never allowed to think about that statement, I focus on the things I can control: mostly, my preparation. I take every opportunity to make sure my performances are up to my personal standards, which essentially means I'm spending lots of hours in the practice room. It's always worth it to feel even 5% more confident due to your thoughtful preparation during a performance.
I am most proud of the audition I won to earn my spot at my current job, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. The audition process for American symphony orchestras is quite brutal. There is usually just one opening, and anywhere from 100-350ish people might be applying for it. The candidates are given a list of repertoire to prepare for the audition, and everyone plays behind a black curtain on the stage to ensure anonymity. They even put down a large roll of carpet so the gender of the candidate could not be guessed based on the type of sound their shoes are making while they walk in.
The first round lasts no longer than 5-7 minutes, and the committee narrows down the candidates significantly. Perhaps there are 200 candidates auditioning: the committee will cut this number down to about 30 at the most. Subsequent rounds then take place, still behind the screen, until the final round where the screen is removed. At this point for my spot, there were 6 candidates left. There ended up being three more rounds before I was chosen as the winner, it was the longest day of my life. I had arrived at 8:30am for the first round, and I was told I'd won at around 10:30pm. I'm so glad my violin teacher told me to bring snacks. I am proud of myself for achieving what I'd say was my ultimate goal in my career -- to be an employed musician at a major symphony orchestra.
It's okay to ask for help, it's okay to feel confused, it's okay to be imperfect, it's okay to accept yourself exactly as you are, imperfections and all. My identity was so intertwined with me as "the violinist" when I was younger and I'm sure you can imagine the effect of endless hours in the practice room determining "everything that is wrong with your playing" has on how you view yourself as a human. I am putting in lots of work now to explore who I am besides just "the violinist" and I'm so excited to feel a more genuine sense of self. It also happens to have a positive effect on my music-making, which is a nice bonus!
Everything. Defying the odds. I was told at a pretty young age that I'd never be hired by a symphony orchestra because they'd take one look at me, a woman, and decide they didn't want to pay for my maternity leave because obviously all I want to do is have babies. Ok, there are so many things wrong with that that I don't even know where to BEGIN, but that was a REAL statement that was spoken to me! One pretty atrocious fact about symphony orchestras: women were basically nonexistent in them up UNTIL THE 1960s! Yikes! Being a woman in music is incredibly important to me. The St. Louis Symphony is actually the first American orchestra to have over 50% of its members be women, and I seriously love that. We have been here the whole time, practicing and performing our hearts out, and we need to continue pushing to be represented in music exactly the way we deserve.
Laura Bruner, blogger, podcaster, van-lifer, and mother.
When I was a kid, I dreamed of being a teacher. That dream has manifested itself in my life in many ways, first as a high school teacher for two years out of school, and now remotely through my podcast, online courses, and consulting with mamas. And for that I am eternally grateful.
My biggest fear is any harm coming to Evie. There sure is truth to the concept that our children are basically our hearts existing outside our bodies. We can do everything in our power to protect them, but ultimately, they must live and learn.
Growing, birthing, and now raising my daughter.
Your body and soul are wise, strong, capable, and so worthy of love.
Being a woman means power, strength, and love all in one. Being a woman connects me with other women in a way I am only starting to understand. Being a woman allows me a unique and important opportunity to raise a daughter to become a woman who loves herself deeply, demands respect, and lives as a responsible citizen of this world.