My passion is to help others in the community, young, old, and everyone in between, find relevance and joy in learning, performing or listening to classical music.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A revelation about the relevancy of classical music in my life

Last Friday night I watched the movie, Hilary and Jackie with my husband.  It is now Sunday afternoon and I am still thinking about that movie.  It has touched a nerve in me that at first surprised me but now seems completely understandable in the light of who I am and who I want to be.  When I started writing this blog just about a year ago, I put a lot of thought into why I was going to write this blog and what I was going to write about.  I wanted to come up with some sort of "mission statement" or goal that would neatly tie everything I do together.  In the end, I came up with the following...
"My passion is to help others in the community, young, old, and everyone in between, find relevance and joy in learning, performing, or listening to classical music." 
I've struggled with this byline off-and-on for the past year, thinking that perhaps the word "relevance" is too trendy and lofty for my purposes. But after watching this powerful, tragic movie about the famous cellist Jacqueline Du Pré, and after many hours of my mind putting myself in the midst of her life as it is portrayed by the movie, I am seeing that perhaps I wasn't so far off after all.

In the Wikipedia entry for the word "relevance" a formula is included which is supposed to help determine whether or not something is relevant to something else. Here it is:
Something (A) is relevant to a task (T) if it increases the likelihood of accomplishing the goal (G) which is implied by T.*
In my case, I'm thinking this formula would be:
Music (A) is relevant to my task of bringing joy to people, young and old in the community (T) because it increases the likelihood that people's lives will be enhanced and strengthened through music and music-making (G) which is implied by (T)
I believe that people feel joy when they feel a connection to something or someone, regardless of the nature of the music itself. The music can be sorrowful or jubilant, classical or jazz, western or eastern - regardless, if there is a genuine emotion there that connects people within a community, there will be a general feeling of joy, at least in my opinion. We all want to be part of something greater than just our solitary selves.

I enjoy playing music with young musicians...I enjoy reading chamber music with other "amateurs" in the community...I enjoy performing at a nearby retirement community...I enjoy performing with my husband...I enjoy writing about music...I enjoy improvising music while my 5-year old daughter dances with abandon. I enjoy all of these things, I believe, because they involve the sharing of joy between more than just myself. I am grateful that I am not famous, that I didn't make it big because I think this sense of sharing within a community and building upon those relationships would be lost in such an environment, at least for me.  I look at a musical star like cellist Jacqueline Du Pré, who seemed to thirst mostly for family and for connection with others but instead found herself isolated and mostly alone with her music, rarely, if ever seeing her art interact with community and realize that I am very, very thankful that I have the life I have.

* (Hjørland & Sejer Christensen,2002)


  1. Inspiring and beautifully phrased!

    Any definition of "success" should centre around activity that is relevant to you and makes you happy.

    I'm convinced that community as opposed to individual is the way forward for classical music.

    Just keep doing what you love Erica!

  2. Thank you so much, Marion, for your kind comments. Let's hear it for communty :-)

    Hope you are well.


  3. Hi -- I just discovered your blog a few days ago. It caught my eye because I am also a pianist and cellist (though more the other way around -- the bulk of my training is as a cellist). I added your blog to my blog list. Some interesting stuff here.

  4. It's so wonderful to meet you, Harriet. It is amazing to me how many cellists are also pianists and vice versa. Someone should do a study about why that is. ;-) I just popped over to your blog to learn a bit more about you. I'm looking forward to more!

    Happy practicing and playing music, on whichever instrument happens to be handy!