Sunday, August 7, 2016

Music, the language of the soul

Mimi (our youngest daughter - and aspiring violin player) has been playing violin for a few years now. We met her teacher at a studio which closed the following year. We thought her teacher was a perfect fit, and so we hoped she would continue to teach Mimi. When she offered to teach out of her home, Virginie and I gave it absolutely no thought. She has nurtured her along with a balance between high expectations, and praise that is near perfect for Mimi.

A few weeks ago, her teacher emerged from her lesson smiling. "Mimi has picked out her recital piece" she announced with a smile. "It's a folk tune from Quebec, and she needs to practice it". Guilty as charged. I'll blame it on being too busy, but I admit, I've never heard the piece played, either during lessons, or during Mimi's practice time.

Until this morning...

When a musician performs, it's not just the music. Each performer using the expertise of their chosen instrument, their personality, style, and body language, to portray a story, which can cause each of us to reflect.

I remember playing in the University of Lethbridge Wind Orchestra many years ago. We were playing a collection of folk tunes called "Armenian Dances" by Alfred Reed. To this day, it remains one of my favorite Christmas tunes. This was a special performance though, there is an Alto Saxophone solo during the piece, and I was selected to play it. I fell easily, and instantly in love with the music, and over the course of the semester, I longed to return to that moment, wherein I would have the opportunity, to return to that place where music, passion, and the feelings of my soul could finally be released in harmony with the other musicians.

During our final performance, I was struck with the knowledge that this would likely be the last time, I would be playing this piece. As I played through my solo, and surrounded by the musicians, our music swelled to a musical climax that I felt so deeply, that I wept.

I didn't stop playing... but tears flowed freely. For the moment, this was my gift, that I could give.

After an epic battle, ultimately lost by the DVD player, the music was ready. I counted in my daughter, and she began to play. I went downstairs to continue painting.

And then I listened.

Folk music is beautiful. I absolutely love it. To me, it conveys much more than music, it tells a story, of a culture. Not of battles won or lost on the battlefield, but of stary skies reflected in the ripples of a river, or dances done in traditional costumes, or of something as simple as a mother kissing her child goodnight, and blowing out the lamp, promising him of sweet dreams to come.

And so of all the interpretations of that tune that have been done, none come even close to the beauty I heard coming from the strings of my daughters violin, because she played it with a quality that caught me off guard.

She played it with innocence. And I wept.

We have become so busy as a society, I believe that we have forgotten how to feel. We have work to be done, lessons to attend, fitness goals to reach, kids to rear, shopping to complete. And when we arrive home after these busy days, we learn numb ourselves from our emotions. A psychologist once told me some people will cut themselves, not with the intent to harm themselves, but with the intent to feel something, something real.

It's a gift that music gives for me. Something deep and real that I can savor like candy.

Music, it's what we can share, and enjoy when we love someone.