How not to build a LEGO castle.


Hey, it’s Zoe here! 


The other week my brother came over and discovered my not-so-secret stash of LEGOs I keep in my studio for teaching. So – logically, as grown university graduates-or-about-to-be-graduates – we took them out and started building LEGO. 


My grandiose plan was to build a castle. I painstakingly hunted down all the colors that matched and structured my perfectly square edifice. The result? Well – you decide: 



– in my brother’s words, “It looks like a prison.”


So I decided to try Round 2. 


Who said the colors have to match? Scratch that. Who said the walls have to be made out of 2x4s? Who said they have to stack parallel to each other – why can’t we stack them at odd angles? Heck, who said there have to be walls at all? 



Okay maybe not the most structurally sound, and obviously everyone’s taste is different… but I’d visit this castle over the other one any day. 


In any case, while building these contraptions I realized how much of a grownup I’ve become – in LEGO, in music, in life. 


When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait to grow up. It made me so excited to think about having my own apartment, cooking my own meals, going to school, running a teaching studio, performing in an orchestra, and working a job. I guess I technically have all those things now, but somehow along the way, I think I lost the spark of being a kid. Growing up taught me that all the blocks have to stack perfectly on top of each other, the colors can’t mismatch, the shapes have to be square, and that you have to stay inside the box you built. Music (and life in general) somehow became an endless prison of responsibility, expectation, stress, hurry, and anxiety. 


I’ve been on a personal mission to become a kid again – the kid who dreamed up outrageous plots with my brother (starring our stuffed animals), dug trenches in the mud and ran hose water through them to make “waterfalls,” created a backyard fort by hollowing out the bush, thought it was fun to wash the dishes, and loved Tuesdays because it meant group class with other Suzuki kids. 


So, here are some things I’ve been doing to connect to my inner child – 

  • Listen to solo pieces I LOVED and couldn’t wait to learn when I was a kid, or orchestra music connected to memories in summer camps (for me these are the Weber Oberon Overture, Dvorak American Suite, Borodin String Quartet No. 1, and Grieg Holberg Suite!) 
  • Attach a favorite childhood memory to my pieces
  • Find ways to sing or dance more in my practice
  • Imagine that I am a kid when I participate in rehearsals and perform – reconnect to that sense of excitement and wonder
  • Go to the beach and lay in the sand (or, if the weather is bad, the mall to just observe and get lost in the crowd)
  • Make origami – one of my favorite childhood pastimes! 


Here are some questions that might help you reconnect to your curiosity, innovation, and boldness!

  • When you were a kid, what drew you to music in the first place? 
  • What was the “spark” in it for you? 
  • Who inspired you to play?
  • What fascinated you about your instrument? 
  • What pieces were you SO excited to learn? 
  • What was your favorite part about playing with other people?


And finally, some more ideas of things outside music you can do when you start to feel too grown up!

  • Make a favorite childhood recipe!
  • Watch a nostalgic movie
  • Play a game or do a puzzle 
  • Go get dirty outside 
  • Draw something crazy – color outside the lines!
  • Revamp a childhood hobby
  • Listen to music from your childhood unrelated to your current repertoire
  • Build some LEGO castles! 
  • Bring an attitude of curiosity to mundane activities 


Be creative and come up with your own spin on how to “grow down.” Can’t wait to hear about your ideas!


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