Text 22 Sep What Does Life Feel Like? And Paper Tigers…

The Grammy Museum had a special event Thursday night, A Conversation with Yanni, which you can watch here. I SO would have loved to go to this, I mean, tickets were only $25, come on! But with my girls and already going to the concert on Friday night, it wasn’t really doable. Anyway, I was able to watch the video this morning (thank you technology). I’ve seen lots of Yanni interviews before and he said a lot of the same things he said already and in his book, but I was still able to get a few points worth remembering. He talks a lot about creativity and the creative process and he said that if you are honest with what you are creating, whatever that may be, (i.e., not trying to make something because it is popular right now and will sell), if you are honest, then it will be original, because there is only one you. And then he went on to say “what does it feel like to be you? What does life feel like?” and that really stuck out to me because I can use that. I can understand that. That’s something tangible that I can take away.

Someone from the audience shared about how Yanni’s music has given her the ability to escape the shackles of fear in her life and she asked how Yanni deals with that in his own life and he answered saying that what the fans give back to him is what heals him. He told her that the fear is just a paper tiger (for some reason I keep thinking to myself “paper dragons” but no he said “paper tiger”). Anyway, he said “you can go right through it.” And that was cool. It’s true. Don’t be afraid.

He also said whenever he’s facing a problem in his life, he tries to let it go and work through it as quickly as possible and not wallow in that feeling. It’s the same message I get in my women’s group, in church, in The Secret, everything, it’s all the same. It’s a message I am still trying to learn.

So here I am still reeling from this concert. I don’t know why it does this to me. Why I feel so tied up after an event like this. How do I make it positive? Why do I feel so frustrated? Why do I have this obsessive personality that causes me to try to find out everything I can about someone or something and try to understand it completely so I don’t have to feel like I’m on the outside anymore? Is that why? I’m getting a little more abstract and deep than my intention with this blog but part of my process has become getting my thoughts out in some tangible way so I can literally let them go. I’ve been through this before and I know the stages and the timeline, and this is part of it.

By the way, did you know Yanni has a daughter??? My sister actually told me this yesterday. I have an email that has been sitting in my inbox announcing Yanni on Oprah’s “Where are they Now” and I just haven’t gotten around to watching it yet but I guess he reveals that he has a 32 year old daughter. Crazy! So I’m wondering what were the circumstances? Has he known this all along? What was he doing traveling all over the world his whole life when he has a daughter he should be worrying about? Judgment. It’s none of my business. But I still want to know…

What would I ask Yanni? He talks about entering “the black”, the unknown, the creative process where the music is. I want to know like, in real terms what that means. I’m imagining like a whole song just swirling around in space and he just goes to this place to get it. In that case, is there just a limitless amount of music out there for the taking? Is this a real place or does it exist in his mind only? How does it come to him? How does he translate this to a real orchestral performance? He did actually answer that question in his Grammy Museum interview which was cool. I just feel like if I knew everything, then I could relax, because I would know.

So needless to say I’m a little frustrated with violin right now because of course I’m trying to play all these Yanni melodies and it falls flat and doesn’t seem worth trying. I have to overcome that though. That’s a very trivial and childish way to react. Ugh! More later.

Text 20 Sep 1 note Yanni: A World Without Borders

I saw Yanni for the third time last night, and once again, it’s impossible to put into words the talent, beauty, creativity, and transcendence of what is happening on that stage. Those 16 performers are truly greater than the sum of their parts. As always, I’m left with mixed emotions. Sheer wonder and awe at what I’ve witnessed, love and gratitude for my family with which I got to share the experience, and of course inspiration for my own musical endeavors. For those 2 1/2 hours there was literally no where else in the world at any time in history that I would rather have been. Yet I’m also left with a feeling of being left out (for lack of a better term), being an “outsider” maybe, envy, and a feeling like there’s something I’m missing, something I don’t quite understand…a beauty so deep that it’s sad in some way.

My expectation was that since I had already seen him twice and that this concert would be virtually identical to the last one I had been to (even our seats were the same), that this time it wouldn’t be life changing (like it literally was the last two times). I was semi-correct but there were moments during the concert that were a little different and of course it still affected me greatly. First off, they started with Deliverance featuring the voices of Lauren Jelencovich and Lisa Lavie which I truly appreciated for the first time (although I was always a huge van of the Voices project). Then Santorini and Keys to Imagination, in which Samvel Yervinyan has an epic violin solo. This is a moment I was looking forward to because last time he got a HUGE response from the audience (a lot of Armenians in the crowd) and I was not disappointed. The crowd was so loud when he started that you couldn’t even hear him. It was amazing and it felt so good to be part of it. Every time he played for the whole rest of the concert he got this response. I even felt a little bad for Yanni haha!

Mary Simpson did an outstanding job in The Rain Must Fall and it felt like time had slowed down while she was playing her violin solo. I remember feeling this last time too. There was actually another time during the concert during Vertigo that I felt like the music was hanging on a thread and that it could have just stopped at any moment, like it was only a rehearsal or something. Not really relevant but my thoughts. Nightingale was another stunner featuring Lauren, who was even more amazing than before.

My favorite moment was when Yanni and Ming played a piano/keyboard only version of Within Attraction (my favorite song), which was much quieter and softer than the way I’ve heard it before, but he still led into the dueling violins of Mary and Samvel which was just awesome. I actually found someone on YouTube who posted this clip. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to find it, whew!

Charlie Adams, epic EPIC 12 minute drum solo.

During Felitsa, I heard a man behind me say “I have tears in my eyes” and towards the end, I think it was during Samvel’s solo during Nostalgia, the woman next to me fanned her eyes to hold back the tears. What is it about beautiful music that does this to us? It almost makes me feel like we’re all robots that can be affected in this way, but then I think it’s the opposite. By the way Nostalgia was another one of my favorite moments. That’s a song that gets better every time I hear it.

Yanni talked to the audience more than usual, and he got a lot of cheers and shout outs during this “conversation” which was really cool. His message was that from space, we don’t see the lines separating the countries, and that we’re all one living on one planet. If only everyone in the world could experience Yanni, maybe we all could really live in peace. I think he’s truly capable of bringing world peace! It’s amazing what his music has done and continues to do for people.

My 3-year-old daughter Suri’s favorite part was when “Yanni played the drums” haha! She’s so amazing. She was so tired towards the end but stayed up to clap after each song. This morning she woke up asking to watch Yanni on my phone and then later brought me the Yanni Live DVD (I didn’t even know she knew we had it) and asked to watch it. She watched the whole thing (although she said she liked the “white clothes concert” better) and clapped along and did hand motions and even got her own little drum out and played with him. I literally couldn’t have asked for more with her.

So where do I go from here? Go practice my violin? It’s laughable to me. I will never even come close to Mary or Samvel or Benedikt so why even try? I know that sounds ridiculous but what is my real goal here? I might say it was to be able to play those favorite melodies (Felitsa, End of August, Within Attraction) on violin. But guess what, I can do that. I’ve been doing that, and guess what, it doesn’t sound the same! It doesn’t sound at all like it does when Samvel or Mary plays it. So that’s my frustration. In the meantime, I’m grateful for YouTube and the opportunity to go to these concerts and have these experiences. Amazing.

Side note: Someone please remind me next time to spend a little extra money for closer seats! I told myself I would do this last time and didn’t. Big mistake. Next time I’m sitting as close to the front row as possible.

Text 14 Aug Savings

So I’ve started thinking about when would be the right time to upgrade my violin. I didn’t want to jump the gun by asking Paul, but this week he mentioned (as he often does) how impressed he was with how advanced I was already, having only been playing for 2 years. (I know a lot of this has to do with me being an adult and able to easily follow instructions and understand things like timing, etc… compared to his other students who are much younger). Anyway, I took the opportunity to ask him when would be the time to upgrade and he said any time! He said most of his students upgrade around Book 4 (which I’ve just begun) and that he knows I’m serious and want to stick with it. He said it all depends on your budget but ideally you’d always want to play the best violin you can get. I googled and found that at my level I could be looking anywhere in the $1000-$3000 range. I’m probably right in the middle of that and I think I would have a ton of options with that budget. I started a savings account to put some money away toward this and I put a note on my calendar for January to start looking. There is a violin store in Bonsall that Paul recommended. Exciting!

Text 12 Aug

learninglemni said: Happy 2 year anniversary! I love following your blog and your progress (especially since you juggle so much). I am so glad you recently updated your blog with a video. I am halfway through the 1st suzuki book myself.

Thank you for your kind words! I read some of your blog and it’s great! It’s a really good way to track your progress and make the most of the journey. Best of luck to you!

Text 7 Aug Nathan Pacheco with the San Diego Symphony

I got to see Nathan Pacheco with the San Diego Symphony on Sunday. It was fantastic! I had seen him once before (and also with Yanni on the Voices tour) and most of his songs were the same as when I heard him before. He’s really great and so personable with the audience. He seemed really grateful to be there. The venue was so cool! Right on the water behind downtown, so you just brought your blanket and lawn chairs and the concert started right at sunset.


This was my first time seeing a symphony since I started playing violin. Actually I think it has been my only concert other than Samvel Yervinian since I started playing! (I’m finally seeing Yanni again next month, can’t wait!)

Anyway, I had the chance to see Nathan and get a photo and autograph after the show but there was a long line and I felt bad keeping my girls out so late and my sister had to leave for work early the next morning so we skipped it. I was bummed but I have met him before and gotten my picture and autograph so no big deal. (But kind of a big deal, because this is always me. If it were up to me and only me, I would always try to meet these people. I’d have pushed my way up to the front of the mosh pit at the Oasis concert in 2005, and waited outside the rear exit of the venue for them afterwards. I’d have gone down to the stage after the Yanni concert to try to get a “hey there” from Charlie Adams or whoever else had come back out, but that’s just me, and it’s not up to just me anymore, but that’s not a bad thing.)


Here I am with Nathan in May 2010

It was great to be inspired by the symphony! Also Eric Rigler was there, he’s like the best bagpipe player in the world and has played for Gladiator, Titanic and Braveheart. It was a really casual “San Diego” style concert. It was kind of a last minute decision but I’m glad we went. Also they didn’t charge me for either kid so it wasn’t bad for $20!


Here’s the instagram I posted…


and a “Like” from Nathan himself! Thanks Nathan!

Text 1 Aug 1 note Happy 2 Year Anniversary! (to myself)

Today marks my 2 year anniversary of owning a violin and taking lessons! My teacher claims that I am further along than most people would be at this stage, especially adults who usually give up after a few months. So that’s encouraging! I genuinely love practicing and my lessons. I am so thankful that I found my teacher, Paul, and although I complain that I “never” get to practice as much as I’d like to, I am thankful for the time that I do get to practice and that I have managed to progress as quickly as I have. I haven’t kept up on this blog nearly as much as I’d like to and I still have ideas pop into my head about things I could write about but it’s hard to just sit down and do it. Anyway…2 years in and 3 Suzuki books down. Not bad!

Photo 14 Jul I graduated to Suzuki Book 4 today!

I graduated to Suzuki Book 4 today!

Text 30 Jun

universaleyemedia said: I really liked reading your blog and listening to you playing. I can't figure out how to do tumblr yet and don't think I will since I have my own blog which I can't mention here. Google me "Dona Omanoff" I guess you don't allow comments. I really enjoyed the interesting facts about you. Well done what an adventure.

Thanks Dona for your kind words! Can’t wait to see your blog! And I’ll turn on comments, I didn’t realize I had it turned off.

Video 28 Jun 1 note

Practicing “Bouree” from Suzuki Book 3

Text 10 Jun Great Grandpa Ole’s Hardanger

Now here’s something to blog about! We spent the last two weeks in Wisconsin visiting our families and attending the weddings of two close friends. On our first morning, I was up super early (it’s like Alaska there, I woke up to the birds outside our window and thought to myself it must be 10 am already only to look at the clock which said 5:20! I swear the sun straight overhead!) Anyway, I couldn’t get back to sleep so I went down to the kitchen to do my absolute favorite thing: sit at my mom’s kitchen counter and wait for her to serve me coffee and muffins! It’s the best. I am so well taken care of at “home”. Anyway, we started talking over coffee as we always do on these mornings and she suddenly mentions to me that the week before while she was at my Grandma’s house, my Grandma had gotten out this old Hardanger violin of her dad’s! I got goosebumps hearing this, seriously an old European violin in our family?! So she goes on to tell me my great grandfather played the fiddle in a band back in Norway! Now I probably don’t have all the specifics correct. I believe my great grandpa Ole came over from Norway as a boy on a boat, so maybe it was his father who played this Hardanger. I really need to get my ancestry correct. But anyway, she was telling me all about this violin with hand painted designs, inlaid ebony and ivory, and a dragon scroll. I was in disbelief! My Grandma came over a few hours later and brought it with her so I could see for myself.

Now that’s something! We didn’t take a picture of the label inside but I think it said 1841. Amazing.

I guess there was some debate among my Grandma’s 10 children over who had claim to the violin but I’m quietly lying in the shadows as the only violin player in the family so we’ll see. I’d love to get my hands on it and take it to get restored and restrung and see how it sounds. I am in the market for a new violin you know! (I’ve started a savings account for a violin, more to come on that).

She also had an old viola and I can’t remember who played that. It had what looked like a homemade wooden case with silver clasps. Cool.

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