I shared this Liquidrum post on Facebook 2 weeks ago. I urge you to watch the video.
Todd Mehan isn't just speaking about music or being a musician, he speaks about something larger than that - about life, about being a human and a kind one at that.
We often read and hear how illnesses change people's lives and perspectives, about how they want to be a better _____ (fill in with: mother, father, brother, sister, husband, wife, etc) especially when they contract a terminal illness. It's not that Todd Mehan isn't a nice person, far from it actually! I never got a chance to meet him in person (although I did catch a Mehan-Perkins duo performance but I don't recall when. Probably when I first went to Peabody in 2011) but I hear about him all the time from my colleagues and friends I met at Peabody. I thought it would have been lovely to meet him at least once, to speak with him about music, life and so much more. After all, we both came from the same "lineage" of studying under Bob van Sice.
But the truth is, we will not understand the severity of anyone's words unless we are on the receiving end. True story time!
In January 2015, Jonathan Greeney (Principal Timpanist of the Oregon Symphony Orchestra and Peabody alumnus) came down and spent a few days with us, giving lectures and masterclasses. He spoke to us about how life changes once we graduate, about practicing as much as we can while we are in school (because it is really hard to get access to instruments once you graduate), and more importantly, practicing with urgency as if there is no more time left. He shared personal stories in particular, when he was studying with Tom Freer in Cleveland State University whilst having a baby to take care of. It was definitely a tough time for him and his family - they're with a newborn and he had a degree to complete and auditions to win. He learnt quickly and had to consolidate his practicing into one short session, and Tom's practicing techniques immensely helped him, especially in his preparation for the Oregon Symphony's position.
After he told us that, we were definitely more motivated to practice and work harder, but it didn't last very long - at least for me. It was until the winter break of 2015 where I finally understood the severity of his words as I was in the same shoes as he was, except I wasn't taking any auditions. Sure I had a recital to prepare for, but it wasn't a life-or-death thing like an audition! I had to cram my practicing to 2 hours a day (at the most), trying to memorise Rogosanti, Velocities, Book of Grooves, 21 (amongst others) and then attend orchestra rehearsals and chamber rehearsals on top of school classes. Thank God for my in-laws who came up to help for the first 2 months! And also to my dear friends from Peabody, especially the percussion department - thanks for being so understanding and helpful!
The whole point of that long-winded story was to say that only when I was in the same position as Jon Greeney did I realise the depth and true meaning of his words. Relating this to Todd Mehan and his health, it will be unlikely for us to do any major/specific changes unless we ourselves get struck by something life-changing. And as the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. So before any health catastrophes strike us, we should start taking care of our health and well-being because after all, health is wealth.
I really hope you take the time to watch the video and as always, I thank you for reading. If you had a life-changing story, please let me know in the comments - I would love to hear from you! Till next week, stay safe and be well.