"But you're a musician!" my astute readers are thinking. "You play music every day!"
Why yes, yes I do. But life gets busy with three kids and a dog and a business to run, and when you are a trained musician with little time to spare it's hard to find time to play simply for the joy of it. There are concerts to prepare for that require practice deadlines for pieces you don't choose. There are paid gigs using music you could play in your sleep (and sometimes do). Being paid to play is not a bad thing by any means, but it's different. It's wrapped up in responsibility and preparation and scheduling and occasionally uncomfortable shoes. It's work. Enjoyable work most of the time, but work.
Moments of real music, where I remember why I play to begin with, don't happen for me often enough.
Last night my friend, Linda, a wonderful musician who makes even the most dreary paid gigs a delight, held a chamber music party in her home. She served delicious homemade soup in one of the world's gaudiest looking tureens along with wine and crackers and cheese and sandwich fixings. (Feeding musicians is essential to their happiness.) There were about ten of us there, some of the nicest people in Milwaukee, all ready to play music for no other reason than to amuse ourselves for the evening.
|I'm the blurry person in pink in the middle (photo courtesy of Linda Binder)|
Chamber music is really a musical conversation. It's certainly lovely when it's been practiced and perfected and every nuance considered and observed. But it's more fun when it plays out like real conversations do, with people going back and forth and moving things along as best they can.
The real beauty of the music we played last night was the element of forgiveness in all of it. I tell my students that when they play an audition or a competition to remember that everyone is on their side. The judges want to hear something beautiful, and aren't really looking to jump on every mistake. We all know where the hard parts in their pieces are and what it took to prepare them, and we know the difference between an error made in nervous panic and one from lack of practice. I'm humbled by how good some of the musicians I get to play with are, and there are situations where I'm nervous about being judged, but not last night. Everyone was just happy to play. The conversation didn't have to be perfect, it just had to be sincere.
I hope Linda had enough fun to want to throw another party like it again soon. Because real music is pure joy and one of the greatest things I know.
By request, Linda's tureen. (Which, weirdly, was greatly marked down when she bought it.)