ImprompTO Belgium

Perfectly prepared for a quiet weekend at home and then I saw it. The most unexpected but yet the most wonderful of emails. My former teacher, my mentor, my second mom was in Belgium and asked to see me. With less than 48 hours to change my plans, my travel research skills were put to the test.

Oostende, Belgium was the host of my sweet professor for the week and a mere four hours from my home in Germany. Had my rusty trusty truck been here, the question would no longer had been if but only when. Alas, while travel in Europe can be dirt cheap, ( have I mentioned I can fly to London, Berlin, and Copenhagen just to name a few for 9 euros,) last minute travel can ruin your budget before you can say Gesundheit.

There are some people on this earth that I would temporarily ignore my frugality to see, and she’s one of them. A rare soul who looks beyond and sees not only what you put forward but everything you can be. She believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. When coming back from surgery, not sure if I’d ever be able to talk normally again yet alone make a sound on the clarinet again, she held my hand, comforted me, and gave me a gentle but swift kick in the pants when I needed it.

And so, after many hours of searching, the trip to Belgium was set. The four hour trip to Oostende complete with many naps and bible reading went quicker than expected. And after a warm embrace following a year without seeing her in person, I had the privilege of watching the master herself run rehearsals for a few hours. I missed clarinet in that moment. It was striking to me. In truth, I’ve taken a full year off. A very much needed full year off. I was beaten in all respects… both physically from injury after injury, and in someways emotionally after finding out that the profession I had worked for and dreamed of for the last 12 years – military bands – was swept out from underneath me beyond my control.

And so I did what I thought was best. I’ve pushed through the emotional ups and downs of this emotionally bound profession, but to push through injury would have had severe consequences. Time away was the best option. Sometimes you need time to remember what you’ve lost. Or rather time to remember why you loved in the first place. And sometimes, you just need to heal.

Over some tea and crackers, she asked me the hard questions. Where does music fit in? Do I still want to perform? Had I considered music therapy or education? How does my view of music as healing fit in with my view of the Sabbath? Her goal for me is to be happy in what I do. She offered of herself to help me get back to form if and only if that’s what I wanted. I was also able to sit down with her professor and mentor who was a great encouragement in himself. Our mutual bond of red-hair, clarinet, and overcoming surgical operations and desire to now better educate the musical community about prevention of injuries allowed for a fun and inspired meal. At the end of the meal, I promised her I would pick up the clarinet and see what happens, and today I did just that. Five minutes. That was all. Maybe more tomorrow and maybe less. I don’t know exactly how music will fit into my life now, but I do know that I have a home at FSU should I choose to pursue it. And that comforts me!

How fortunate am I that half a world away, I was able to sit down with two of the world’s most respected musicians and pedagogues of our age and simply share life together.

In between the life-lessons and the catch-up sessions, I was able to squeeze in a tiny bit of sightseeing!

The Sint Petrus-en-Pauluskerk

Inside the Cathedral

A little bit around the town!

For all of your support, I thank you. 

For your time and patience, I thank you. 

For simply believing in me and my music, Thank you! 

 

Tomorrow, I’ll add part two of this trip when I went to Ghent with Benjamin!

Much Love and Many Blessings as always! Go Noles!

~Kens

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