Practice day 33/100. With metronome, tuner, and mask. This situation was feeling very metaphorical today. I am tired of the pandemic, tired of wearing a mask, tired of playing unaccompanied Bach alone in my room. And, I was feeling especially resentful of not being able to take all the liberty with the tempo that I wanted.

My teacher wanted me to play with the metronome, and so I did, its inexorable irritating beat making a mockery of the “dance” this piece is supposed to be.

In the privacy of my own mind I wonder, what if my head and heart want to do something that the composer didn’t intend? How do I make the music my own, under these constraints? How do I make my own degenerate era count as much as the nostalgic days of Bach? How do I make my own voice heard through the mask?

As I took my teacher’s advice anyway, something started to unclench. And I started to lose myself in a good way.

I wear a mask to protect myself and others, I wear a mask because it’s for the common good. The metronome, and the tempo control it affords, is good for me too.

This isn’t a performance, but it is a connection—to my teacher across the electrons, to Bach across the centuries, to my viola pals and practice buddies and orchestra mates and students. We’ll get through this together, and reach a time when the masks come off and the metronome is quiet. And we will be changed.

Courante from Suite III, with mask and metronome