In this blog we're going to tell you about music, why we do it, why we love it, and also tell you about ourselves a bit. This post is by our Clarinetist and one of the Artistic Directors, Dana Hotle. _____________________________________________________________________
"It's so great you get to do what you love!" A statement I hear over and over again when people I meet find out I'm a musician. Often accompanied by a quickly masked look of confusion as they try to figure out what a clarinet is. I appreciate their enthusiasm for my job, and often wonder what it is that they love that they are not doing, but that's a story for another blog. I smile, I nod, I try to match their enthusiasm for me doing what I love. I do love being a musician. I love music. I love talking about music, learning about music. I love all of the different "hats" I get to wear. I love the people I work with. Mostly, I love making music with people. I love the layers and depth of relationship you develop by rehearsing and performing music with people. I love making people happy by performing for them. I love that people love that I love what I do. But music was not my first love. No, not at all. Not even close. My first love, was horses. Horses, horses, horses everywhere as a kid. Drawing horses, reading every horse book ever written. Horse stuffed animals, posters, figurines. My mom finally caved, and took me to my first riding lesson.
She says she hoped I would hate it, or be scared, and never want to go back. Of course, that is not what happened and she started shelling out for riding lessons about the same time she put me in piano lessons.
I was unbelievably lucky that I had a grandfather that loved horses too, and he had some land, and somehow we ended up with two adorable Shetland Ponies. Every little girl's dream, come true!
These ponies, best friends, became legendary in the family. Marmaduke was as sweet as a puppy and would've followed us into the house if we'd let her. Patches was ornery and sometimes mean. I loved them both. Eventually, when I rode the ponies, they had six legs as mine were touching the ground. They got passed on to another lucky little girl, and grandpa bought a full sized horse! He bred the mare and gave me the colt. My very own horse.
Meanwhile, I had started clarinet in the band, played the oboe for a year, then back to the clarinet. Started doing all the "band geek" things in high school with my friends. (Keep following this blog, you will see me in a marching band uniform, I promise ;-) I Fell in love with Beethoven, Schostakovich, and this St. Louis Symphony recording of American music I can't find or even name (Susan Slaughter at her best.) And it was good. Music was fine. I enjoyed practicing, but really, my heart was with the horses. Eventually I decided that clarinets were less expensive to feed than horses, and I'd better make a choice. So I did. And it was a good choice. I do love what I do.
But always, when people exclaim, "You're SO LUCKY, you get to do what you love!", some little part of me is thinking, "Yeah . . . but really, really I want to be on a horse; swaying to and fro with its gentle walk, in the woods with the sun rising, the early morning mist evaporating, the bugs lazily buzzing around us . . ."