Studiola Roundup: Violinist Mari Carlson talks about the time for a studiola…

Mari Carlson became a violin and fiddle instructor by chance, when a religion BA and seminary degree proved worthless as money-makers.  Now, she plays and teaches violin for no money, it’s so fun!  Doing something just because you dig it is what religion is about, right?  In her spare time, her husband (a poet) and son (rock guitarist/fledging billionaire/gem expert) entertain her with boy antics.  And she makes art: linoleum prints to share with friends.

Nola Studiola: Is there a time in your life you could have used a Nola studiola? (alone, in New Orleans, semi off-the-grid, unemployed) What’s one thing you’d be sure to do if you were ensconced in my Nola studiola? I can always use a Nola studiola!  You know, the classic need of a woman artist (or, maybe men need one, too), “a room of one’s own”.  I can’t think of a particular time it would have been helpful, or will be helpful in the future.  But I can think of lots of times I COULD be using one.  For example, to get ready for a performance or when I’m PMSing and it would be to everyone’s advantage if I would just use my creative energies creatively, instead of hormone-ly. When I think of a studiola like the way Alison is doing it, I immediately think of a practice retreat my violin teaching colleague went on.  She had a lesson every day with a master teacher, then was expected to practice 6 hrs a day.  In the evenings, the participants put on concerts for each other and made dinner together.  She came back rejuvenated and on fire for the experience, even though (or maybe because?) she said the practicing was really hard and she was often teary.  She suggested it for me.  I told her I couldn’t think of when it would be possible for me to stop my like for a week, and that, frankly, the thought of focusing on my practice scares the shit out of me.  I don’t want to face all the reasons I DON’T focus on my craft in the first place.  It’s much easier to be a teacher, busying myself with all the tangential tasks related to this endeavor: scheduling, accounting, e mailing, consoling, encouraging, hell, teaching, instead of playing myself.   Maybe, I think, this IS my retreat.  Teaching IS my studiola.  I’m doing it!  But, then again, I also know it’s a distraction.  It’s ABOUT the art, and not the art itself, too.  So, in conclusion, if I were ever to take the leap and go on a practice retreat, or actually carve out time and space for a bone fide Nola Studiola, I’d be sure to have kleenex ready, and lots of snacks, oh, and lots of glue in case I decide to hurl my violin right out the goddamn window!

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