A number of years ago (at least eight and possibly more) I was playing a job in another and a visitor came to the pit to observe. He was a musician from a city somewhere in Southern California, and his friend was conducting the show. He was a really nice guy, and yes, he was an oboist.

During the intermission he commented on my involvement with the music. “You really like doing this, don’t you?” I admitted that I did. He proceeded to tell me that my symphony friends would treat me with disdain because of this, and then he also said, “You care too much.” He told me that I cared far too much about the music and that that could cause me a lot of problems.

I know he had a point. I know that I can use with a bit of relaxing and not getting so bothered by every little blip. But I fear complacency, and I would rather be at the end of “too much” than “too little”.

I still remember the gist of the conversation, even while I don’t have it word for word.

I hope I will continue to like what I do, be it a symphony job, an opera, a musical or something else. And I guess I really do hope I care too much.

I would hate to care less. I think it might make me careless.


  1. As performers we are the custodians of the composer’s thoughts/craft/art.

    There is no such thing as caring too much.

  2. What a colossal twit! The nerve! Methinks he doth project juuust a tad. Enjoy and be involved exactly as much as it works for you. What the heck does “caring too much” even mean? Learning not to beat yourself to a pulp for every tiny mistake is good, but other than that I think you should tip your memory of this conversation into the nearest dustbin. So there.

  3. Please stay as you are!!!!
    You can´t “care too much”!!
    Play as you feel it, otherwise you are not authentic!

    All the best,
    Hehsu (the Austrian violinist) 🙂

  4. Not to worry, Hehsu … I won’t be changing my playing style or anything. The one thing I can change is how hard I am on myself. That much I will work on! 🙂

  5. So I (as one of your symphonic colleagues) have always disdained you because of your enjoyment of music and how much you care about it?…NOT!!!!!! That fellow sounds like he has “issues”, as they say.

    Why be in this business if we don’t love it and care about it? Oh, yeah, for the huge salary, I forgot…(again NOT).

  6. Well, I think he was suggesting that the disdain would come because of my enjoyment of musicals, which some symphonic musicians really don’t care for. But yeah, he was rather off about things, wasn’t he?!

  7. I have heard it say that when you go to learn to be a professional musician, they beat all love for the playing out of you, because you have to study too much or in a stupid way or something. Maybe he was talking about that? That he meant most professional musicians don’t love to play as much anymore as when it was a hobby…

    (I seriously doubt the truth of it, by the way, and it was mainly told by people trying to cheer me up for not getting into music school :p)

  8. Yes, I’ve heard that too, eefje, but he wasn’t implying that. He was saying I cared far too much about the music and I needed to let go of that. He implied it would destroy me, for one thing, and also just seemed to think it was silly to put that much energy into the job.