I felt like the luckiest person in the world while playing my concert on Monday night because I finally felt like I could express myself musically on the violin. It has taken years, and my path has been filled with twists and turns, many instruments, and several dead ends (I played violin from 7 to 11 and then took it up seriously at the age of 31).
As a violinist I am an amateur in the purest sense of the word. I play viola professionally (for money), write music professionally, teach professionally, and write reviews and program notes professionally, but I play the violin for myself. I have nothing to "prove" as a violinist, which is what makes the whole process of playing and practicing so fulfilling. I don't think that I will ever be able to play like the great violinists--both alive and dead--that I admire (or even as well as the ones I don't admire), but it really doesn't matter because now that I have enough technique to actually express myself on the violin, getting close to the essence of the music I play is enough. And there's a lot more to learn.
I practice the violin because I love to practice the violin, and I play violin recitals twice a year because I love to really work on repertoire with my pianist friend John David, who plays music for pretty much the same reasons that I play music. I wasn't nervous on Monday night. I was excited to share the "stuff" that John David and I love about the music we were playing with the audience, and I'm looking forward to the next time we get a chance to do it. It looks like the main "dish" of the next concert will be a sonata by York Bowen.