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.

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Musical Thanksgiving Day Revelation (or two)

I have spent the past week mostly separated from music as my family has been on vacation; hours and hours sitting in the car, listening to and watching Barbie movies over and over again (this time it has been her Fashion Fairytale), bouncing from hotel to hotel, constantly looking for whichever item my daughter has temporarily misplaced in the black holes that are our suitcases, visiting with family.  It's always good to have a break from every day life but it is also challenging for me to maintain any semblance of sanity so far away from my piano.  Sounds crazy, I know, and perhaps a bit on the pathetic side, but I often find myself longing for the touch of my warm piano keys that have history trapped in the swirly lines of their ivory fingerprints.  I miss the complex sounds that I can summon from the instrument, the puzzling over musical phrases, the hypnotic and meditative state of mind that comes from living in Bach's music on a daily basis.

I was musing on such thoughts a bit yesterday, Thanksgiving Day, perhaps because music is something I am most thankful for but I was caught off guard when that silent, private musing became quite public. And it was in the moment I am about to describe that I encountered my Thanksgiving Day Revelation (or two).

We were at my sister-in-law's house, surrounded by lots of family. We were in our post-meal recovery period and my daughter and I had just finished watching, again, Barbie's Fashion Fairytale. We went and joined the women of the family at the dining room table who were busy coloring in coloring books. (Yes, adult women all coloring...really quite a fantastic way to pass the time in a lovely way.) While we were coloring, my mother-in-law inquired about a CD that our daughter listens to at bedtime every night. It is a CD that my husband and I made of a concert we put together for my daughter's classroom. She mentioned that although my daughter only listened to Mozart's piano variations on "Ah, vous dirai-je, maman" (aka "Twinkle Twinkle") at night, they had listened to the entire CD while they were taking care of her for a few days and really enjoyed it. She asked if she could have a copy for themselves. This request wasn't so surprising since my husband's mother is a wonderfully supportive, inquisitive, and sentimental woman. What surprised me was that this request turned into more than a request, it turned into a moment of musical sharing.

After finding the CD, we brought it over to the dining room table and put it in the computer to play. We started, of course, with the Mozart variations. When that came to an end, however, another guest asked, "Is that all?" Being the shy person I am, I felt like saying "yes" but I replied with the truth, that there were several more songs. We ended up listening through the entire CD (which isn't that long) and it is here that the revelation comes into play. Growing up as a musician that plays classical music has been interesting because for the most part, I was always in the minority when it comes to what music I feel most connected to. As a result, I tend to be a bit on the shy side when it comes to presenting the music I play, especially when it's a recording that isn't recording-studio perfect. But in this situation I didn't say anything at all before playing the recording - I didn't apologize, didn't make excuses, didn't explain anything about the pieces. And what happened? We had a bunch of women listening to music that they didn't all know, smiling, and humming along. They weren't classical music buffs, they were young and old, they were enjoying listening to the music I love so much. And did they hear the foibles, the passages that weren't as expressive, the blemishes? I don't believe they did. They were listening for music, not for imperfection.

They were listening for music, not for imperfection.

I was also reminded that sometimes the best musical moments aren't in the concert hall.  That they can occur anywhere, anytime.  What an incredible truth and one that I find incredibly exciting.  It makes me think of the many flash-mob performances and random acts of culture that have been going on around the country and the world lately, where folks break out into music in the middle of every day life, in every day places.  And what I'm finding out is that it's hard, in such situations, to find a person who isn't smiling, who isn't enjoying the music.

So there you have it.  That is my Thanksgiving Day Revelation (or two) and for the experience of encountering them, I am grateful.

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