January 05, 2013

Only Music

The other night I was talking with a woman who asked me the usual questions about my holidays and looking forward.  She's a generation more experienced than I, and I admire and respect her greatly, in addition to liking her a lot.

When I told her I would be working more starting next week, she asked what I would be doing "or is it only music"? 

As musicians (professional, amateur or shower singers) we are familiar with being dismissed this way.  What I find interesting about this exchange was how much it stung.  She meant no offence and I have not taken any, but it has really got my brain going.  At a time when the importance of musical experience is prodding me with such urgency, I guess I'm baffled that not everyone is taking it as seriously!

Right now in history is unique in that owing to the prevelence of recorded music, we as a society are abandoning the music-making experience and the benefits (personal and communal) that come from that. 

I am reading a book by Daniel J Levitin called "The World in Six Songs" (fabulous fabulous), and I came across this quote.  It is taken from Paula Robison's memoir of 1880s Manhattan (although it doesn't say when the memoir was published).

"Vicarious musical pleasure by radio and phonograph, while it encourages listening to good music, seems to put a damper on musical self-expression.  [In our childhood] we sang more.  Children sang at school and in their play.  Folks sang as they worked, indoors and out.  Even drunks do not sing in the streets and buses as entertainingly as in [those] days."

So next week I start back to work - a new preschool and new adult students in addition to what I was doing before.  And there is a substantial argument that what I do, "only music", is vital in prolonging our cultural heritage and winding the ribbon of shared societal memory through another generation or two.  It isn't "only music".  It is a significant part of who we are - it's MUSIC!!

As always, I finish by nudging you into your own music.  Sing out, sing strong, play something proudly.  How "good" you are is immeasurable.  Let go of trying to "get it right".  Grab the joy that music making offers and drink it up.  Wonderful in solitude, amplified in community.

Happy New Year.

From Lisa (Riediger) Gillespie on February 10, 2013 4:48 PM

Well said! I have an eight-year-old boy who sings and dances with such reckless abandon, it inspires me to make music for its own sake, not just because I need to practice for leading worship.

From Dan Chick on February 01, 2013 11:45 AM

Well said!  I feel somewhat the same about art.  We are much becoming a consumer culture and the process (and satisfaction) of creating is something that is falling more and more off of people's radars.

From Jaime Birch on January 24, 2013 8:34 PM

I just wanted to say, I love this!!  It is one of my 2013 resolutions to branch out from "musical expression comfort zone"  if that makes sense.  Going to one of your improv workshops is on my "to do" list this year.  So this has encouraged me.  "Grab the joy"....love it! :)
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