To all my fellow musicians...

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Have you ever wondered how magical it is to play an instrument? When your fingers touch it, it’s like they come to life and begin playing on their own. All of you have to do is believe in and think of the tune. Of course, practice is a must, but what about that giddiness and relief that fills you every time you finish a piece without making even one mistake?

At some point, we all hated practicing. There so many other things that I could be doing, like playing video games, or surfing the web, or watching TV, but I have to practice this stupid thing. That’s what all of us thought at one point. Looking back on that time now, I realize that if I hadn’t had such a wonderful family that forced me to keep on practicing, I would never have felt that wonderful feeling of accomplishment every time I get to play a piece that I really love, or be able to produce a tune that I’ve heard somewhere on a whim. It feels good, when your fingers touch the keys, or when you wrap your hand about the bow, knowing that you’re finally at the level where you can fully appreciate and enjoy the music that you produce. And, you can do it any time you want, because it’s your instrument, and it’s your fingers and hands.

If I go on trips where I can’t play piano for more than week, I find myself missing it more than anything. Sometimes I wonder whether or not I should have learned to play a more ‘portable’ instrument, so I can take it with me wherever I go. And once I get back, the first thing I do is rush into my room and turn on the light so I can play a little, even if only for a minute or two. Just to feel those black and white keys under my fingers once more, to feel them come to life and speak to me, sing to me, is a complete bliss. I feel as if I’m talking to the piano, and the piano is responding. We hold a conversation, sometimes happy, sometimes sad, and other times, a little playful and random. There are so many people out there who can’t fully comprehend music like we do, because we have the benefit of first-hand experience. To us, music isn’t just different notes meshed together to make a pleasing tune, it’s a whole other language, a whole other world, that only we can understand and enjoy to such an extent. The notes become not only black dots and lines on white, but words, sentences, paragraphs that tell amazing stories and tales. Reading them through again and again, I never get tired to playing a song I like, because each time I play, I get to hear something new, like a new side of the story. It might sound the same to passersby, but to me, it begins to form a completely different world.

When some people are on stage performing for the first time, they get nervous and forget where their hands are supposed to go, but not me. When I’m on stage, it’s only ever just me, the piano, and the music itself. Nothing else matters, really. And they never do, until the last note is played and I stand up to take a bow. Only then, do I go worrying about whether or not I did a good job. Of course, most people will always smile and say something like “Oh you did a wonderful job! I really enjoyed it!” but it’s seeing the tears in someone’s eyes after I play a sad song, or the wide grin on someone’s face after I finish a cheerful piece that really makes me believe that they liked it. It makes me feel good, because I know that I got the message of the music across. I know they understood, at least to some degree, what the music was trying to convey, what the story is about.

Whenever I listen to music, real music, music that doesn’t have lyrics or fancy drums and techy beeps, I close my eyes and try to imagine what the composer saw as they created this piece, or what the musician saw when he or she played this piece. I have yet to imagine the exact same picture for any two pieces, or even when different people play the same piece, because we are all like story tellers presented with the same story. When we re-tell it to someone else, we add something of our own into it and thereby, make the story our own. It’s that ability, I think, that really sets a true musician apart from just any person who knows how to play the notes. It takes a certain level of mental and emotional maturity to produce ‘real’ music and not just notes.

Every time I see a piano in public or in someone’s house, I can’t help but be drawn to it, like my fingers are just itching to touch those keys again, to hear them sing again. What’s your story, I wonder as I look at the piano. Each and every instrument has its own story, where it’s been, what it’s seen, what pieces it’s played. And when I play the piano, I try to find the answers to all these questions because I believe that these instruments have the ability to keep their own stories and tell it to whoever happens to be playing. I try to understand everything it tells me and comprehend, even if by a bit, the amazing stories behind it. At the same time, I try to tell it my story, and the story of the song I’m playing. And together, that’s what makes music real and raw and true.

No matter how much I think about it, I can’t draw the line between music and magic. I’ve never seen something so close to what people call ‘magic’ in the world. Music has the power to strip someone entirely of their mask and expose their emotions in such a way that no other thing can. Music can make someone cry on their happiest day, or cheer up someone who’s just hit their ultimate low. It has the power to rob you of all the feelings you have, leaving you feeling utterly and completely empty. But it has the power to fill you with unexplainable emotions and you have no idea how to get rid of them. There’s no other thing in the world that is so powerful and potent as music is. It’s a language that everyone and no one understands.

I don’t think there’s anyone in the world who can claim that they really, and I mean really, understand music. And here, I say understand not as in theory or being able to read notes, but to become a part of their world. It’s impossible, to humans at least. We can only ever hope to grasp what thin threads they offer us and try to take in everything we can. That is, I think, the best we can do as musicians and as people who love and cherish music.

“Ah music, a magic beyond all we can do here...” –Albus Dumbledore.





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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

ANDREALCiscool said...
Apr. 10, 2009 at 6:14 pm
Good job, C.J.! This is wonderfully written. You really have a way with words and I'm guessing, a way with music too! :)

It's good to see that there's still teens left with appreciation for real music.
 
lilymika said...
Apr. 10, 2009 at 6:14 pm
Hey, C.J.
This is really good. You are such a good writer. Keep up the good work.

anamika
 
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