Sunday, June 13, 2010


Today is my street's recital, in which lots of us are playing. The title is "Together."

My old piano teacher's recitals always had a theme. Sometimes it was "chocolate," "ice cream," or "strawberries," but this time it was "One." Usually the food has to do with the theme, and we'd have to give mini-speeches about how our pieces fit in with the theme.

This isn't really a theme. It's a title that has meaning.

Luke (my student) and I have been learning together. He's been learning music, and I've been learning how to teach music. The program begins and ends with two people playing a song together. This event is all of us neighbors coming together to make something cool. In the first song he's playing, Luke worked on using both hands together.

But that's not all. I'm going to quote from the essay I wrote as part of getting my band letter.

"I once wrote an email to YA author John Green about how much I loved his book Paper Towns, and how much it means to me. As part of his reply, he wrote “I’ve always believed that books are a conversation, so my part of it is only half of the work. It doesn’t become real for me until you read it.” This applies to music and band as well. The composer writes the score, but it’s just ink on paper. It’s the shadow of the music, just like a cube’s shadow is a square. There’s an entire other dimension waiting in the wings, and in band, we get to see (hear) it."

Later on in the essay, I continue with that thought, saying "“Performance” can mean a concert or a show, but there’s other meanings as well. When I teach my neighbor Luke piano, I’m not passing on the music. I’m passing on the journey. I tell him some of the same things we’re told in band. We count together, and I teach him about the physics of music with a belt and a drum. His first recital is currently planned for the weekend after school lets out, and then it will be his turn to perform, and to share what he’s been doing with the rest of our cul-de-sac. Smiles, laughter, and yawns are contagious, and it turns out that so is music."

Within that thought, that music (or a novel) is a conversation, then it's something two or more people do together. The composer, the performer, the audience, the teacher, the inspirer- the conversation can be between any or all of these. Even if you write the music yourself and never play it for anyone, there's still the inspiration, whether you consider that to be a specific thing you saw while outside, God, or one of the Greek Muses.

Together, we're going to take part in a conversation this afternoon that's as old as humanity itself- older, if you want to think of string theory as music and also happen to subscribe to the theory.

I suppose I only wrote that out in this post so I can print it out for my speech later, but I hope you found it interesting.

1 comment:

Talk to me.