So on Saturday morning I e-mailed Ceri and wondered if she’d like to meet me for coffee, since I’d decided at SEVEN A.M. when my husband woke me up to say good-bye (“It’s either that or not say good-bye,” he explained to me; bitter thought in return: On Saturdays, it might be worth it) that I would get outside and enjoy the sun, terrifically windy though it was, and pick myself up a tambourine.
Short tangent: why do I need a tambourine? Because I don’t have one. Tangent over; back to your regular blog experience.
She called me and said yes, not only would coffee be neat, but had I eaten breakfast yet? Of course I hadn’t. (Breakfast is a week-day thing for me.) So I hopped a bus to the metro with my trusty current bus-book (Lathe of Heaven) in tow, and had read half of it by the time I’d hit her place. (Read the rest on the way home. I am now paranoid.) We had breakfast with Scott, and then puttered about music stores all afternoon. After trying out every single noisemaker in the first shop (I work retail, and occasionally have the urge to go dish it out gleefully to other poor wage-slaves) I picked up my tambourine, squinted at the price of the music stands, then watched Ceri sigh over the saxophones. I proposed another music store (heh heh heh) and she got all perky and excited. Scott left us at this point, and off we went to sigh over more saxes. Ceri was feeling so bereft of her rental sax of last year that she even went so far as to have the salesgirl calculate out how much paying off a new Yamaha alto sax within one year would come to by monthly payment.
I freely admit, I did this whole temptation thing intentionally. Why should I be the only one with a pile of instruments I don’t devote enough attention to? “But I have lots of tin whistles! And a bodhran! And I don’t play any of them!” Ceri wailed. So? If you don’t have a sax to ignore, you also don’t have a sax to pick up and play when you’d like to, is my reasoning.
My list of instruments (in order of acquisition):
Voice (ha! You thought I’d not include it?)
The husband has a chanter and a bodhran as well. We have a piano in someone’s basement that will be there until we can afford to get it moved by official trained piano movers. (“Do not try this at home” takes on a whole new meaning when it involves an upright piano and basement stairs.)
Why do I have a household of musical instruments? I had to think long and hard about this the other day. I’ve concluded that it’s due to the potential that rests in all of them. I can sit in a patch of sun in the living room with my harp against my left shoulder (mildly heretical, but I bat left-handed too, maybe that has something to do with it), lean my cheek against the soundbox, and just feel all the music inside it. Call me crazy, but I can do that for an hour, then just touch the strings gently here and there, and then put it away again. It’s not about releasing the music, or liberating it, or whatever you like to call it; it’s about connecting with the instrument, feeling it inside you, releasing something in your own spirit that’s in harmony with it.
(Ed. note: It’s raining! Woo-hoo! I will put on my CD of Vivaldi double concertoes in celebration.)
Sure, accomplishing a terrifically hard run on the cello is satisfying too, but in a completely different way. Producing coherent and recognisable sound is work, which isn’t the same as pleasure for me at all. So why did you join an orchestra, I hear some of you asking in a snarky tone. Well, because when I was playing cello quartets a few years ago, I dicovered that I loved hearing the interaction between the different lines. I adore Bach, for example, four or more careful musical lines all dancing with one another, often produced by only two hands on a keyboard (I also adore Glenn Gould, so there). When I sing in a group, I love hearing the tenors sing against the altos; hearing certain musical lines in unusual juxtaposition thrills me for some reason. Working in orchestra satisfies me in a similar fashion: I can work through all the different lines and hear them come together to hear a richly textured tapestry of sound, and I’m right in the middle. I often wonder how the audience can ever approach the experience I’m having, simply because I’ve been studying these works performed in-depth along with thirty other people. (Not that I’m diminishing the audience’s experience in any way; as a writer and performer I am a firm believer in the audience-co-creates-experience theory.)
Where was I? Oh yes. Ceri and her saxophone. So I say, heck, yes! Own that sax! Hold it; press the keys gently; watch the complex mechanism move; lose yourself in the dance of sunlight on the brass. Blow a couple of notes here and there. Above all else, love it, and love the potential that lies within it, that lies within you. If no one ever hears you, so what? Music is about you and your experience. It’s pure emotion. It’s about raising your spirit. Technical brilliance is never a measure of that. If you enjoy working musical challenges through, hey, great; otherwise, life’s too short to say, “Oh, I’ll never be able to devote the time I should to it.”