Thursday, April 16, 2015


Yesterday was so inspiring.

I performed in a chamber music concert in the morning for a group of fellow music teachers. To say that I was extremely nervous about it would be an understatement but the moment I began to play, the anxiety was replaced with an acute awareness of the majesty of the music. Performing is magical that way. It's like playing a piece for the first time in some ways, hearing it as the audience does, fresh and new.

In the afternoon my dear friend, neighbor, and sometimes-piano student came over to play me a medley she had written for her husband years ago. It was composed of a few of his favorite pieces--The Parting Glass from Waking Ned Devine, an Eagles song, Simple Gifts, a Scott Joplin tune. It made me tear up it was so gorgeous and heartfelt and so obviously inspired by the most real love.

Then in the evening I went to see a documentary called Seymour: An Introduction and just about melted into a puddle in my seat. It's about classical pianist and master teacher Seymour Bernstein and it was the most poignant tribute to art I think I've ever seen. Bernstein says that music is the "God inside us" and watching it, I got a familiar but at the same time rare feeling that I can only describe as intense gratitude for the music inside me, in my fingertips, in my soul. Gratitude that this art that touches me so deeply is my art, that of all the professions in the world this is the one I'm called to.

You know, the nervousness before a concert, the hours of practicing, the frustration and feelings of inadequacy that are inevitable in a life devoted to a craft, they can cloud you and bring you to dark places. I think it's because music is inherently soulful and it makes you vulnerable. It's so so hard to do justice to a late Beethoven sonata, a fugue by Bach. It takes such extraordinary effort and emotion. So when I am able to step back and be reminded, as I was over and over yesterday, of the richness and beauty and purity and sheer goodness that make up the tradition of music, it can be so profound and overwhelming it makes me cry.

All of music--the composers who make it, the poetry of art songs, the lessons we learn by studying it, the people who inspire it and whose names are written lovingly on manuscripts, the natural grace of the piano itself--all of it is our gift.


  1. My hands are too busy these days for much Beethoven or Mozart...but I appreciate you writing so beautifully about engaging with your craft. Someday I will be able to pull out my books of sonatas and fugues again :)


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