Music justifies its existence to the extent that it instills harmony in the listener and aids in comprehending the harmony of the universe. – Plato
An interesting aspect of music is that it can give the listener the actual experience of harmony, conflict, resolution, structure and chaos.
Recently, I was privileged to record an album of inspirational songs with a former student, soprano Alyssa Wills.
Although I am the older and more experienced musician, Alyssa took charge of this project. She had a clear vision of what songs would be appropriate to include on this album; and how to present each song, including the approach to my accompaniments. She wasn’t overbearing but gave me complete freedom to create accompaniments that would support the style she wanted. Sometimes I used printed music, other times I could improvise something much more interesting and poignant. It is an album worth listening closely to, and also one you might play softly with a fire in the fireplace, a cup of tea and a good book.
Music can seem magical, but often it’s the conscious choices that allow the musicians to do their jobs, really well, so they make a home for the magic.
There is a well-circulated story about an experiment that had violinist Joshua Bell playing Bach suites in a New York subway. This got very little crowd response, and only $32, which disappointed many readers of the story. This was an interesting experiment. However, many potentially wonderful ramifications are overlooked in analyses.
You will never know how many people appreciated the music and even were inspired. They were there to catch a subway and stopping was simply not an option; but they still heard the music; and even a little can make an impression. Not everyone likes classical music, violin, or street musicians of any kind; yet this may have opened them up to something new. Still others may have recognized Bell, and Bach, but did not want to interrupt or seem foolish: “what would I say to Joshua Bell?”
Outer recognition, applause and money are parts of the business of music; but not the only parts.
Music is a primary subject. It is one of the creative areas in which people take an interest, because they like it and see it as healthy, invigorating, worthwhile, inspiring, wonderful; not because it is a step to something else.
The arts, athletics and all creative areas attract kids and adults because they are enjoyable; they are good to do; good for life. And music provides all the mind-body coordination of sports, without the bodily danger!
While research shows that studying music can strengthen the mind in other subjects, most people want to learn music just because they love music and find it interesting, not for some other reason. So, I am willing to study math, English and history, and work at getting good grades in order to be a better and more successful musician. The musical interest is first and drives the desire to be good in other subjects, so I can get scholarships, get into a better college, better job or whatever.
Music is not in schools to help academic scores, academics are in school to help kids be better musicians and improve growth in all creative areas.
In the West there is a Bible story of wise men, magi, or kings, following the star of the East to the baby Jesus. In the East, the phrase “the star of the East” refers to the light seen in deep meditation, helping to direct one’s focus to greater spiritual understanding.
The Star Of The East, musically follows the magi over the sand dunes on their journey; or your own journey from inspiration to realization. Enjoy this slide show of cards and stamps from my wife’s wonderful company, Stampendous, with The Star Of The East played by Kevin Weed. Find videos and the whole story at: http://bit.ly/TheStarOfTheEast