Tali Rubinstein

Image by Noam Galai

By Tali Rubinstein B.M. ’14

Hey guys!

I’m glad you’re back. Really. I missed you.

Today I want to talk about something no one likes to talk about: jealousy. I’m not even sure I feel totally comfortable to dig into this topic myself. It’s an embarrassing one, a negative emotion that doesn’t have the legitimacy or “prestige” of sorrow, anger, or agony. It’s just this annoying feeling that creeps up sometimes, unwanted, and makes us secretly hate ourselves a tiny bit when it hits.

Wait—can I actually change the topic? Maybe write about the Super Bowl?

No, I can’t. First of all, I didn’t watch the Super Bowl. I don’t even know what sport it is (I hope this statement does not provide a legal ground to get my American citizenship revoked).

Second, this is what episode 3 circles around. In every episode, before we go to one of the great NYC late-night jam sessions, Dror (the director of the series) conducts an interview with me. He asks me some questions which I am not prepared for, and I might not feel 100% comfortable to talk about, but I believe that my mission is to answer with full honesty. So, in answer to his question, “Are you jealous of other musicians?” I respond—I am. A lot.

Perhaps, jealousy is only an amplifier of our own fear of never fulfilling ourselves, of disappointing ourselves and others, of wasting our potential by making wrong choices.

I then notice that one of the factors that effects my jealousy level is how much I perceive a certain musician’s status as similar to mine. The more I can identify with someone in that sense, the more I could potentially be jealous of him/her. I think the reason why jealousy has a bad reputation is that people think the subtext is, “I am not happy for you for your achievement,” or even worse, “I wish you would fail.” But, is that so? Perhaps it has nothing at all to do with any negative feelings towards another person. Perhaps, it’s only an amplifier of our own fear of never fulfilling ourselves, of disappointing ourselves and others, of wasting our potential by making wrong choices.

I want to argue, that these are all very normal, healthy thoughts. Anyone who does not experience these kinds of insecurities, is probably avoiding them (or they’re just better people, and that’s even MORE of a legitimate reason to be jealous of them!). But realizing this still has not prevented me, throughout my whole life, from minimizing direct competition, in order to escape these natural, yet harsh feelings. I’m actually not talking about the choice to play the recorder—that was love at first sight (see my previous post…)—but more the genre of music that I play, the people I surround myself with, and the place where I choose to live. I’ve noticed that one of the biggest factors in the decisions I made throughout my life in these categories was how much I felt pressured by a strong competitive atmosphere, in which I felt I’m diminished to how well I cope with stress, a battle I thought I’d probably lose. It wasn’t so much about the other competitors as much as about the atmosphere itself—how judgmental I experienced it to be, and to what extent I felt that people were looking for flaws. And whenever I felt this kind of stress, instead of staying and fighting, instead of teaching myself that it’s normal to feel jealous and it’s okay to be stressed about competition, I chose, in most cases, to escape and find myself a new home. My dad would call it my “intuition” (he always thought I moved from place to place because of some kind of a hunch).

So, what is my conclusion? I could feel bad about running away from my problems, or I could cut myself some slack. I’d rather think that I’m human (but there’s obviously a chance that I was abducted by aliens during the 90s when it was in fashion…). I’d like to think that I have human emotions, and that sometimes I avoid them, like other humans. I encourage everyone who is also human to take a second to remember that, and not to overthink their own self-criticism (easier said than not-thought).

I find it interesting that in this episode, we went to Big Ed’s World-Famous Blues Jam at the Red Lion. Seems like the most appropriate thing to do in this loopy situation is to go play the blues. Blues is the ultimate way of creating joy out of frustration. In blues, the notes that “hurt” are the most beautiful ones. One can let loose any negative emotion, and fully accept it, in the form of music.

Let’s all hug now.

Join me for my next blog, where I talk about episode 4, in which I play a song by my all time favorite musician, Stevie Wonder! (Stevie himself actually pops out of the crowd, pulls out a soprano recorder and we play a duet on stage together!!!! Too bad we had to edit out that part –  the camera angles weren’t great…).

Until next time, here’s episode 3:

Tali Rubinstein

Image by Noam Galai

Tali Rubinstein, signed to the prestigious label Casa Limón is gaining international recognition by performing worldwide and breaking boundaries with a seemingly simple instrument—the recorder.

She has toured with legendary guitarist Paco de Lucía’ s original band; performed at prestigious venues such as Carnegie Hall, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and the Kennedy Center; and collaborated with top musicians such as Anat Cohen, Mariza, and Alejandro Sanz, among others. She is currently working on her debut album Mémoire, a collection of original songs she has composed and co-arranged.