Contemplating During COVID - By Kate Sadler Mini Maestros Kew/Balwyn
Music was my first love, and it will be my last. Music of the future, and music of the past.
To live without my music, would be impossible to do. In this world of troubles, my music pulls me through. - (John Miles, 1976)
And boy ‘aint we got troubles now?!
As I haven’t been able to teach in person since late March, I have been contemplating how music is so crucial to our lives and to everyone’s wellbeing. It has the ability to evoke memories; to transport us to places; create visions in our heads; make us laugh; cry; move ,and quietly contemplate. As a colleague recently said, “It releases the dolphins!” (endorphins), and we could all certainly do with an extra dose of those dolphins just now.
During this, and last, lockdown, music has certainly been a constant, if not blaring from my speakers; playing or singing via my Zoom classes; streaming from my tv; or purring in my ears, it’s certainly been playing in my head, and not surprisingly many of Mini Maestros tunes are often part of my in-head playlist. I often have Golden Slumbers in my head to go off to sleep with. Proving that you don’t actually have to hear the music as you can have it play in your head.
“Music was my first Love”
One of my first musical moments I can recall clearly, was watching tv as a very small child where one of the segments showed a boy running through the Hampton Court Maze in England whilst Vivaldi’s Spring played. When I visited Hampton Court Palace many, many years later, I could hear Vivaldi’s music in my head as I ran through the maze and I’m sure that helped me to the end in record time.
"Music is the mediator between the life of the senses and the life of the spirit" – Beethoven (1770-1827)
Does music simply mean the actual playing of, or sound, the instrument makes; a physical activity involving touch? Or does music involve all of the other senses?
"........ I can see, hear, smell, touch, taste, And I’ve got one, two, three, four, five senses working overtime......." XTC (1982) – Senses working overtime
Both Beethoven and XTC are correct. We use our five senses all the time and often without being consciously aware of them being involved with each other. It is the same with music. We use all of our senses, albeit taste is often less used (although one could use another meaning of taste here, but I digress).
“Music of the past”
I recently found out that my father’s favourite piece of music was Vaughn Williams’ Lark Ascending, so I listened to it and could certainly understand why. The imagery it evokes is really quite breathtaking. I can imagine my father listening to it, thoughtfully, eyes closed, imagining those larks in the early morning taking flight and soaring high. His senses in quiet overdrive almost touching and smelling the scenes as they unfolded in his mind.
“To live without (my) music”, I can’t even comprehend it.
During an elective at university we were asked to watch a short film without sound and describe what we thought about it. Many thought it was a dark and sinister piece, some thought it was sad and one even thought it was quite exhilarating. The lecturer then got us to watch the film again, with several different soundtracks and once again there were different opinions as to which was the most appropriate one. The conclusion was that music can transform events, alter our thinking, and make us feel. Ah, those feelings!
I was walking down by the Arts Centre last year with my mum and daughter, talking happily about the exhibition we had just seen. We stopped momentarily to hear a cellist busking and my Mum turned to me and asked me why I was crying! I had been so absorbed in the piece of music that I hadn’t realised that tears were running down my face, it had so moved me that luckily, I had some coin to place in the cellist’s case and thanked him for moving me so. The piece was Saint-Saëns’ The Swan from The Carnival of the Animals. I have a similar response to the children’s song Puff the Magic Dragon. I hadn’t realise the level of emotion until I arrived at an ELC where it was playing and again involuntary tears formed and the carers were so concerned I was offered tissues and a glass of water and they promptly turned it off. Lots of deep breaths were taken and on with the class. One of the afternoon’s activities was Five Little Ducks and when the sad mother duck went off in search of her babies, I had moved one little cherub so much that she was in tears. What an emotional afternoon for us all. Luckily some vigorous instrument playing and some joyful dancing restored the smiles all around.
Now, don’t get me wrong, not all music reduces me to puddles, quite the contrary in fact. One of my all time favourite bands is Melbourne-based The Cat Empire and one of their lyrics from How to Explain, is “Music is the Language of us all”. How true, music crosses all language, age, race, culture barriers and can evoke so many emotions. I went to their concert at the Melbourne Zoo earlier this year (in fact, one of the last concerts I attended before the world took this peculiar turn) and attempted to sit under shelter whilst they played. I lasted half a song before I was up and dancing despite the pouring rain. It was one of the best concerts, and I have seen them many, many times. Their music cannot help to leave a smile on one’s face.
For me though, music is summed up in this lyric from Stevie Wonder’s Sir Duke “Music is a world within itself, with a language we all understand ... and...music knows it is and always will be one of the things that life just won't quit!”
“Music of the future”
So I just can’t imagine living without music. Come join me, won’t you? Let's help create music lovers of the future.
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