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, August 19, 2011

Lend me an ear and I'll play you a song

Image from Wikimedia Commons
I have been given many ears this summer...

and yellow squash,
green beans,
red cabbage, 
sugar snap peas,
and collared greens...

all because I accompanied the daughter of a local organic farmer on her first violin recital a few months ago which was in itself a joy for me.  (You can read about the whole experience in my post, Accompanying on top of the world.)   I do believe this has been one of the best forms of payment I have ever received and I feel impelled to record why right here in the unlikelihood I find myself grousing about my job sometime in the future or in case another fellow pianist is considering whether or not to barter his or her services for something as unique as a summer full of fresh fruit and vegetables.

So here's what I've loved about my fruits and vegetables:
  • As with music-making, farming is an ode to the work that our hands do.  I work the keys - the farmer works the earth.  Being able to exchange the work of my hands with the work of another's has been curiously satisfying and it has made me think a lot about all the hard work that goes into producing fresh, organic produce.  And just as many people have tried their own hands at music and have been frustrated, I have tried my hands at growing vegetables and have not been terribly successful.  It all takes talent, discipline, and hard work whether it's in the fields or in the studio.  
  • We have received more produce than we could ever eat ourselves as a small family of three.  Finding ways to make sure that we don't waste any of it has been an adventure in itself but a welcome one because it has reminded us of the beauty of community.  We have gone to our neighbors asking them what vegetables they could use so we now have more of an idea of their own family's likes and dislikes.  We have looked up new recipes and made large batches that we now regularly share with them at just a moment's notice.  Had I been paid with non-edible green stuff, a.k.a. money, I have a feeling we wouldn't have been as willing to share and that invisible wall that can tend to go up between neighbors has been blasted right down revealing a situation that is somewhat reminiscent of earlier decades.  To bring this all back around to music-making, it makes me think about how wonderful it would be if we, as musicians, either professional, amateur, or student, would take the same approach with our musical talent.  If those with a lot would extend an open hand to musical neighbors, to find out what interests them, and to share in some sort of musical bounty.  I'm not quite sure what that would look or sound like but I imagine it would also hearken back to a previous time, when music-making in the home with neighbors and acquaintances was a regular pastime.  That sounds lovely! 
  • Who knows what I would have bought with the money I could have been paid?  Frapuccinos at Starbucks?  Another pair of earrings?  Another dress for our daughter?  It's so easy to not be responsible when it comes to having money in my pockets.  But with vegetables?  How could I possibly squander vegetables?  It's been remarkably freeing to know that only good could come out of this currency. 
There's only a few more weeks shipments of produce headed out my way this summer.  I'd be happy to lend anyone an ear if you'll play me a song.  We'll be expecting you.  


  1. How lovely! This post really made me smile. Thanks, Erica!

  2. So glad, Luba! Smiles are always a good thing in my book :-) And thank you for letting me know. Makes my morning brighter.

    Happy musicking to you.