How and why I live my life through music

“Music is love in search of a word.”

“Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music.”

Respectively, these were the words of French novelist and performer, Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, and Russian pianist and composer, Sergei Rachmaninov. These two quotes summarize my feelings about music and its impact on my daily life.

Have you ever had the chance to lie down on the floor next to a person playing a concert grand piano to feel the vibrations as well as hear the sounds? Do you get this feeling of peace and zen, a sense of om when the oboe plays an “A” and everyone begins tuning in synchrony? Sat down during an orchestral rehearsal in the auditorium, closed your eyes and just let the music wash over and through you? Do you constantly have some sort of music coursing through your head at all times? Do you feel no shame whatsoever singing Journey as you’re walking down the street? These are just a few things I do on a regular basis, and a small example of how I feel while doing some of these activities.

Music is my panacea, my place of zen, my balm. It lives in my DNA, it runs in my veins, it resides in my soul. I believe that music holds the key to many of our problems – even diagnostic medicine is looking to frequencies and tones to pinpoint ailments now! Both the acts of listening and playing help me through life. A few years ago, when I found myself unable to cry over losing someone, going to a performance of Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem unlocked something in me and allowed me to grieve. Even now, when I feel overwhelmed, angry, sad, or upset, turning to my violin, going to orchestra rehearsal, and/or playing with a friend or two causes me to focus completely and turn off all my troubles for a couple of hours, letting me channel everything into my playing. Also, ask anyone I know: I’m a nexus of music – many things that people say remind me of a song (that I’ll instantly start singing or humming in my head or out loud), or I’ll almost always be humming or singing a tune as I’m simply sitting or walking around. Music in every form holds some sort of association or poignant memory in my mind, and when I hear certain songs, it causes me to travel back in time and relive those moments as if they had just happened yesterday.

Continue reading

Musicians are Athletes too: The Professional Entertainer Debate

There is a huge rift between expectations and pay between professional musicians and professional athletes. For the sake of comparisons, when I say professional musicians, I’m referring to classical and jazz musicians as even at the peak of success, they do not make nearly as much money as popular musicians even though they put in significantly more work (I’ll go into this argument later). Similarly, regarding my definition of “professional athletes”, I will be referring to football, hockey, basketball, and all those sports that pay their players obscene amounts of money regardless of whether they win or lose.

What sparked these thoughts? I recently picked up my violin again for the first time in months. I didn’t play much because my wrist hasn’t been in the greatest shape, but Doris, if you’re reading this, be proud of me because I’ve only mostly been working on scales, etudes, and Bach. Playing the violin again reminded me of many conversations I had with musician friends throughout the years. Having spent lots of time around musicians of all sorts growing up, we all joke about growing up and living in a paper box – we only say this half-jokingly. Almost every professional musician I know has to work at least two or three jobs; sometimes those jobs have to do with music, but a lot of the time those jobs don’t. Two examples of this that immediately come to mind:

Continue reading