I’m Ryan Libel, a violinist.
Perhaps I’m not the kind of violinist you first associate with the term. As a child I played for a few years, from the ages of ten to twelve. Like many youngsters, at that time of life I lacked the heart for the daily practice. Happily, over the years and with the help of my practice of the martial art of Seido Karate, I’ve realized that the daily practice of disciplines we care deeply about is really, in itself, what matters most about any pursuit – the practice is the pursuit.
It was at the spritely age of thirty-seven, twenty-five short years after I quit, that I began playing the violin again. The instrument has always called to me, and I am fortunate to now have the capacity in my life to do the hard work it takes to grow musically. Playing the violin has become a primary source of my passion and joy; I try never to forget how lucky I am to have the resources, the health, and the discipline to make progress on this path. I do my homework and I am indeed making great progress, but I’m certainly no prodigy. While I try never to limit myself unnecessarily, I’m also fully aware that I will never be a virtuoso.
I study with a fabulously gifted professional player and credentialed Suzuki Teacher – none-too-doctrinaire – whom I leave anonymous. I play on my father-in-law’s old 1926 Ernst Heinrich Roth, a fine German instrument he quite generously gave me that happens to be exactly fifty years older than me.
In this space, I mostly write about my practice and my lessons and my encounters with and growing passion for music, generally classical. I also write reviews of some of the musical excursions and albums that come my way. I rarely make forays into the non-musical, preferring to stick to matters that fit well under the title I came up with back in October of 2013 when I started this blog – Musical Me.
But for perspective’s sake and since you’ve taken the time to read this far, here’s a little about the rest of me: I live in and adore and care deeply about my adopted hometown of Chicago, though I was born and raised in Wichita, Kansas. I am an educator and the executive director of a tremendous not-for-profit institution that works toward health and non-violence through the martial arts and other phenomenal community programming. I have trained in the martial art of Seido Karate since 2004, and I maintain a physically active lifestyle – mostly running and biking – in addition to my martial activities. I have a master’s degree in linguistics, and I love to read and write and eat and learn about nearly everything this wondrous universe has to offer. Like most humans, most of all I love my great big family. I mention them from time to time, though, like my teacher, they go unnamed, all except my wonderful partner in this life, Michael Moss, with whom I have shared literally everything since 1998.
I write for anyone who cares to read, but mostly I write for me, a chronicle of my musical pursuit and this life I love so much. The writing I do here re-enforces my learning and helps me grow.
Thanks for reading.