Last night, I recalled one of the main contributing factors that led to me quitting music the first time around. I actually majored in flute performance in college. All went well until one day I walked into my flute professor's studio and she handed me the Prokofiev flute sonata and announced that would be the centerpiece of my work that semester. Well, I had come in with my own idea: I wanted to play the Chaminade flute concertino. I had fallen in love with that piece during the previous semester and wanted passionately to perform it. But it was to no avail. My professor had already decided that another student in her studio would be performing the Chaminade and I would be performing the Prokofiev. Nevermind that I didn't even care for the Prokofiev. And trust me, I grew to hate it. And I did not perform it well because I hated it so much. As a musician, I knew good and well that there would be times I'd have to perform pieces that I didn't like so much. But the fact that, as a soloist, I had no say in what I would perform that semester, really burned me. Music was supposed to be about expressing the soul, not fitting into some cookie-cutter world. This incident started a chair reaction that ended with me giving up the flute.
Today things are much different. I threw myself into a career that I initially loved, and over time became disillusioned with, but sucked up when the economy turned poor. A 17-year career with a company ended with a devastating layoff. But that certainly put things into perspective. And in many ways that event turned out to be the best thing ever - because now I have music back! Because one thing I learned through that whole trying time is that I'm in charge of my decisions. And I decided that I would play the guitar, and that I would play what I want.
So I walked into my guitar instructor's studio for the first time last December. And what was the first thing he said to me? He said, "what do you want to learn?" A far cry from "thou shalt learn this!!" from 20+ years ago. Instead of wanting to produce a carbon copy of himself in terms of style and artistry, he wants to help me produce me. When I bring in a song I want to work on, he doesn't laugh or dismiss it summarily (although he may gently suggest it's not quite within my skill range yet). Finally! I'm playing what I want.