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Chronicle Cover Chords for another life Illustration: Yanaisy Puentes

Chords for another life

During the confinement, when the concert halls were silent and the artist's life was summed up to studying and meeting at Zoom to give a modern sonority to the bands and not let them die, I decided that I had to do something as a musician to stay afloat. It was at that point that I began to take on the job of music teacher from home. The coming and going of children fluctuated as did the measures to avoid contagion, until happily the confinement ended and I was able to return to the music stand after almost two years without being part of the orchestra. After several months of work and having believed that nothing could change again, my life took a major turn when I found out I was pregnant.

Continuing with my musical life during pregnancy was a decision I took right away. It was going to be a difficult task during pregnancy: the fact that it was a wind instrument vs. the future fatigue, the weight of its case, the daily rehearsals, as well as external factors such as public transportation and the distance from the rehearsal space; but I wanted to stay active and doing what I enjoyed the most.

I am currently a member of the National Concert Band of Cuba, a group that is characterized by constant and rigorous work. During the year 2022, when I had no idea of my pregnancy but already perceived something different in me, musicians of the band and the Teatro Lírico worked for four consecutive performances at the Teatro Martí, to give life to Cecilia ValdésThe work that has historically represented us. I remember that during those first months we also premiered a very exciting concert at the Cuban Art Factory (Hollywood classics) full of soundtracks that we all have appreciated in the movies; an hour and a half, almost two, playing without pauses -we ended up without fingers and lips-. That's how I kept working until the seventh month, more or less, when my season ended with a concert under the baton of a Mexican guest conductor. Those were several months of constant rehearsals and new repertoire assembly; but also of much support and consideration from my conductor regarding my pregnancy, from my husband and from my daughter, who has enjoyed music ever since.

When one begins to study music and its concepts as a child, one learns about certain musical parameters that allow a better understanding of periods, genres, and even composers. Aglogic is one of those parameters to which the particularity of speed changes is conferred such as ritardando, accelerating, rubatoetc. With the arrival of our baby girl, life changed and so did her agony. Having a newborn in the midst of a musical world -mom and dad musicians- is a wonderful privilege, but also a great challenge.

With the arrival of our daughter, I decided that even though it was extremely important for me to stay connected to work as part of the orchestra, I needed to not miss that first year of new experiences and my baby's discovery of the world. I think we women are usually under a lot of pressure. When a baby arrives, if you are also an artist, a whole range of external and internal questions arise that make you ask yourself over and over again what comes next, if now it's all about being a mother or if you will return to professional performance someday.

Someone once told me in a tremendously macho tone: "women are not good to be musicians... as soon as they get pregnant they disassociate themselves from music and raise boys, it has been said". Today, without a doubt, I can assure you that I have not disengaged, I have reinvented myself. Because that's what being a mother and being an artist, an athlete or an astronaut is all about, to modify what you had as a conception of the world and go beyond.

As a result of the pandemic, I discovered in me a passion for teaching music at an early age, which was on pause for several months and which I have taken up again now that I am a mother. Showing five, six, eight, twelve year old children how wonderful music is -without so many technicalities and fancy words-, trying to be at their level all the time, I think it could only come to me through motherhood. Finding creative solutions so that children who have never had contact with a musical instrument learn in a fun way, with colors, banners, associating things of their daily life with elements of music, is a wonderful challenge and sometimes difficult in a country with scarce resources. Motherhood, without a doubt, awakened more fun ways to bring what I know about music to children. I believe that every child should approach art in a way that encourages creativity, concentration, empathy and sensitivity in human beings. If every parent knew how beneficial music is for their child, they would choose to give them art lessons instead of a tablet or a cell phone. 

There is a teaching model developed by an Italian woman named Montessori, which is currently very fashionable but dates back a few years, and has as one of its objectives to develop the potential of the child from a well-structured environment. Bringing my very young daughter closer to music has been a priority, not because of Montessori, but because it is a common language in the family. Put her near the piano and let her explore it with her hands and feet. Letting her pluck the strings of the guitar or daddy's bass, placing her hands on the cajon or playing with her maruga have been part of the experiences we have found to show her our world.

We would love for him to follow in our footsteps in some way, although being a musician may not be his ultimate goal. "So when are you coming back to the music stand?" I'm eager to join in again, to rehearse and study passages of some complex work. The desire to make music with the orchestra, to feel how the audience celebrates the commitment I put into each note. The feeling of guidance and satisfaction that can only be felt when the conductor's baton is lowered and the orchestra begins to flow like a huge shoal of fish in the sea. The whole process of making music is beautiful and, of course, it is missed, but enjoying the process of being a mom, of being the influencer of my daughter is priceless. Motherhood has added a new level to my life that instead of slowing me down has motivated me to grow and go further. Without a doubt the most beautiful things I can enjoy start with m: I am a woman, I am a musician and I am a mom.

Ruth González Rodríguez More posts

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  1. Aleida says:

    Mostra, Magistral, Motivating, Wonderful, Masterful, Modest

  2. Noemy says:

    Very interesting and written with simplicity and beauty. I congratulate you Ruthy, I really like your way of writing, you always bring some teaching, even when you do it in the form of a joke. Thank you for sharing.

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