'It was like going home': Pianist finds her way back to the music

It took Sarah Hagen four months to sit down with her piano but once she did it, she said, it felt like going home.

Sarah Hagen needed a break from the piano, but has found her way back to the music she loves

Sarah Hagen stepped away from playing piano for months because of exhaustion from touring, and found her love for music again when she returned. (Sarah Hagen/Facebook)

Sitting behind a piano again was was like coming home for Sarah Hagen.

The concert pianist, who spent 10 years touring before joining the UPEI faculty, again feels a sense of comfort at the keys, after months of not playing her favourite instrument.

It has been like a limb to play music.- Sarah Hagen

Hagen has played concert halls all over the world, including Carnegie Hall, and was named the B.C. Touring Council's 2015 artist of the year. But the touring was taking its toll, and Hagen was feeling burnt out.

"I wasn't able to give my best and that didn't line up with how I think your life on stage should be," she said.

It took Hagen four months before she could go back to her music, but the show must go on.

'I was worried that I wouldn't love it again'

Hagen had booked concerts, and that meant stretching her fingers once again — but not without worries.

"What if I go back to it and I feel that same overpowering exhaustion?" she wondered. "It was like going home again, I was worried that I wouldn't love it again."

Sarah Hagen has been a touring pianist for 10 years. She has a three-concert series coming to Prince Edward Island starting Oct. 5. (Sarah Hagen/Facebook)

But Hagen said her love of music hasn't gone anywhere.

"It has been like a limb to play music, and I just was scared that it wouldn't come back and … just relieved. And also I think it came back to me in a much richer way," she told CBC's Mainstreet.

I try to constantly remind my students about the beauty of music.- Sarah Hagen

"I was scheduled to tour a pile of Rachmaninoff, these big, hefty Russian pieces which worked out great because that is the music that is closest to my heart. I think that was a part of the healing process."

Now on P.E.I., Hagen has organized a three-concert series at St. Paul's Church on Prince Street in Charlottetown, the first of which is Oct. 5 and is a pay-what-you-will admission.

"It's free to get in, but you pay to get out," she joked.

Hagen also said she would be touring again, though she didn't give specific details.

"I'm already in the midst of it."

Becoming a teacher

As for her new role as instructor, Hagen said it's an honour to join the music faculty at UPEI.

Sarah Hagen also teaches at the University of Prince Edward Island. (Sarah Hagen/Facebook)

"I teach hard work and discipline," Hagan said. "I try to constantly remind my students about the beauty of music."

She said there needs to be an appreciation of each note they play. Along with teaching, Hagen has found a balance.

"I feel hopefully older and wiser."

With files from Mainstreet