What is your favorite wellness activity?
I play the violin in the La Jolla Symphony, as well as in the World Doctors Orchestra.
How long have you been doing it?
I started playing when I was eight years old. I took about fifteen years off during medical school, residency and fellowship. I started playing again when my son was almost four years old and was beginning on the violin. That was about 7 years ago.
How did you get started?
After the 15- year hiatus, I had to remind myself how to play again. I started with very simple pieces and gradually worked up. I joined the Poway Symphony and Symphonette for a few years and then auditioned for the La Jolla Symphony. I made it a rule for myself not to turn down any performance opportunities. For example, my son and I would be invited to play duets in front of his entire school of several hundred people. I was also invited to perform a concerto movement as a soloist with an orchestra, and I have had some solo parts with the Poway groups and the La Jolla Symphony, as well. Though these moments were terrifying, they were also exhilarating and helped me to become a better musician.
How does this activity impact your mental, physical, and / or emotional well-being?
The La Jolla Symphony schedule is demanding. The rehearsals are three hours every Monday evening. On concert weeks, there are rehearsals on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings, with Saturday and Sunday performances. I have to practice a lot between rehearsals in order to be able to play the music. Having the goal of mastering the part for concert weekends has made me a more skilled musician. The performances are every five to six weeks, so there is not much time to prepare. My first year with the group, I performed in every single concert series. I have since decided to omit some of the performances and not try to ‘do it all.’ It has taught me a lot about finding a balance. I see life balance as an ever-changing direction now, rather than a goal.
How does this activity bring wellness to your life when other activities have not?
It provides me with a level of challenge that I can choose. For example, when there is a lot going on with my family, I can back off on my music. I can also choose to undertake more challenge, such as entering a contest to get to perform at the Hollywood Bowl in front of 18,000 people. (That’s what the included video is for.) I have found new friends from the symphony groups. I have also gotten to travel with the World Doctors Orchestra. Earlier this year, we performed in Israel. The group raises money for various global charities. My violin has really opened the door for me on a world of opportunities.