"IF YOU MAKE SOMETHING FROM YOUR HEART, SOMEBODY OUT THERE WILL FEEL IT!"
Updated: Aug 16
Jon Batiste got it right! Don't miss the creative process in service to the end product, he advises on a recent CBS television interview.
Seems like his advice is spot on for how I feel about re-learning the piano after my 63-year absence from lessons. "You just need to keep doing you and that light is going to shine and catch somebody else," he says.
Recent life lessons that have come crashing down on me are gobsmacking and relate to Jon's message, which dovetails nicely with my former blog on the importance of play for the sake of play and its benefits in adult life, as opposed to "work" and "being productive."
Since I'm in a senior learning cohort when it comes to piano students, I have a slightly different take from Jon on how to go about creativity and making music. I'm principally happy -- and compelled -- not to necessarily reach somebody with my efforts, but to simply express my deepest feeling and tender love affair with The Duchess and piano music.
Sometimes with a trusted other listening, I easily play my piano just as I sometimes choose to speak about my enormous love and the excitement of discovery when I run across a new, stunning piece of music I've never heard before, something that captivates me or helps me "hear" something for the first time. Sharing music touches me intimately and as such, it occupies me and consumes my attention, so I'm chary about discussing music willy-nilly, because I feel so vulnerable in doing so. (My poem "The Door" below poetically expresses this precise point.)
Thus, it is quite easy for someone to wound me by not celebrating my process of discovery when they choose to respond with a hard-core black-and-white objective analysis of what I've shared, rather than about how music makes them feel, and concentrating on the positive. I'm seeking connection with more like composer-piano teacher Garreth Brooke, who willingly shares the emotionality of music for him, and says that composing gradually became an escape from the crisis that consumed his family during his mother's severe battle with depression, which led to a suicide attempt. Via email he added that "music (for me) has always been a way of processing complex things."
I was particularly grateful when a cellist recently shared his feelings about what type of music he was presently "immersed in and enraptured by." He pointed me to a performance by a particular favored mezzo-soprano of many lovely arias (including the gorgeous aria "Lascia la Spina" by Handel), all songs to which he responded by "sobbing in epiphany and ecstasy and feeling hopes fulfilled.” Exactly so! Through his simple gift I found the profound Handel treasure (expressed on YouTube by a number of my favorite opera singers--try Caballe--and by Hauser, one of my favorite cellists) to add to music that transports me.
I'm not seeking to shine my pianistic progress out to the world in recitals or public performances of any kind. However, I still feel the deepest, undeniable urge to self-express at the piano, but I do share more willingly in the arena of poetry writing -- and of course, by discussing music or blogging about my piano adventures and journey!
I've always been more comfortable using words in the creative process, or using brushes and ink or paints in the more visual, contemplating arts of painting, drawing and calligraphy, or even using my body to express my feeling via dance, compared to expressing the passionate depths of my feelings, desires, and spirit through my instrumental efforts. Perhaps it will always be so. (The paint brush watercolor was my first class assignment when I took a watercolor class just before pandemic), and the little floral arrangement were flowers from my garden a few years later).
But no matter, what matters is that it's as Jon says, "a way of being," the process, the adventure, the journey, and sometimes the sharing with another kindred soul if that is in the right time with the right person, that are important.
"We're just in the room creating together" when it comes to the piano teacher and the student, or the audience (be it one or many) and the instrumentalist, or in my case usually just The Duchess and me.
All forms of musical expression are miraculous and moving, no matter when or how or why we come to music in our life.
And anyone who helps me play, celebrate, and discover more, and shares my new love affair with the process, is welcome as and likely to become a much valued friend on my miraculous journey exploring music!
* * *
INTERLUDES (from "Poetical Musings - Vol I.)
Sweet interludes in morning come,
I know not when or why,
But goddess blessed me such that, then
My heart in joy does cry,
And smile to think my friend does think
Along lines same as me,
When across his mind does come
Our shared musicality.
The one suggests, perhaps provokes
The other to attend,
Discerning, then to share again
Our thoughts, so well they blend!
And souls do, too, as kindred spirits
Do greet the morning’s light,
Our ears attuned, our waking hearts,
Aflame in pure delight.
The moment’s here–and then it’s gone,
Our thoughts in soft repose,
As on we get with daily tasks,
Though they be otiose.
For meaning lies in what we’ve shared,
No matter quick or long,
And hope resides, perhaps in both?
For another day–and song.
THE DOOR (From "Poetical Musings - Vol. I)
What is the crux of what I choose to like and play when,
Musically inclined, I open up my mind
And let my spirit loose?
Once open from inside,
A door exists for you to come inside.
And that requires far more than nonchalance
Or non-response–even worse!
To me a curse, a repudiation,
And that I simply cannot take
Because I’ll break, and that I cannot do.
So what do I choose?
It’s not my job in life to judge music or another.
But it’s my choice to share myself or music,
Be it with lover, friend, composer, all
(Mentors and performers included, too).
That pathway out includes a path within.
I open up my mind, my body, and
No less my soul to music as to a lover.
Those two, the same; it’s not a game to me.
It’s reciprocation that I seek,
To see your door open, too,
So I’m safe then to peek inside myself and coax her out
In whisper or in shout. Sometimes shy to speak out,
Sometimes ribald, music pushes boundaries
And I become the women who live within:
The flirt, the angel, Miss Tinker Bell,
The nun, the dreamer, and all manner of what
A precious gift, those open doors,
But precious even more is what it takes
To just not break and stay inside.
Sometimes trust, and if I marshal it,
To see us as the same in this non-game,
But different yet in life’s experience.
We both shed tears, of course,
Yet each unique in
Different facets of a diamond dream.
What connects are glimpses of what shines within
That is the same.
That is the music that I hear and choose.
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