The power of music

I often ponder why my life is so busy. Last week was extraordinarily busy – I had my full-time job in IT to manage, the plethora of decisions and paperwork from a family house nearing completion, organising items and logistics for a new bub on the way and not to mention my musical endeavours such as a wedding, Mass and organ recital. I guess it’s because when you’re passionate about something you will always go the extra mile to see it succeed.

My wife often tells me to write things down when I get overwhelmed. Just by typing the paragraph above, I still amazed myself as to how everything came to fruition. If we just put everything else aside and look at my musical commitments it doesn’t seem that bad does it? Well let’s break it down. Fortunately the wedding music was preselected weeks ago but this still required several hours of practise during the week to keep it up to standard. Planning music for Mass requires analysis of the Sunday’s readings and ensuring the hymns are appropriate for the day. This also required several hours of practise. Lastly, my organ recital was programmed for 30 minutes of music. Again this required several hours of practise to maintain an acceptable standard for public performance. Let’s not forget that practise time also meant rehearsal time at the church! I’ve read somewhere that for every minute of music you hear requires a minimum of 12 hours practice time. I’m still trying to figure out where all this time came from!

As I attended to each of my musical commitments last week, each being very unique, I found a moment of joy that made the stress of busyness feel so insignificant. During the wedding I played “Lara’s Theme” – from Dr Schiwago. This was not something I would usually have in my repertoire but it was selected by the couple in memory of the bride’s grandfather. As I played it, I felt a connection and a moment of significance from the families in the congregation. This piece meant something to them! At Mass I played two hymns by composers from the 20th century. As we know, traditional hymn tunes were composed centuries ago but upon contemplating the texts I felt they were fitting for the season of Lent. Again, I felt a sense of joy when the congregation sung with enthusiasm.

I only had a few hours of downtime after Mass before I had to attend to my organ recital. The organ – already a niche instrument and there I was, about to play some Bach, Alain, Guilain and Dubois to an audience who probably didn’t know too much at all about the composers and their musical style. I suppose it’s was my job to let the music speak to the listener. I must admit, I took that a little for granted. After the recital my daughter’s Musikids teacher congratulated me and mentioned that the Bach “Little Fugue” in G minor really sent a “choke to the throat”. This was by no means a bad experience at all, but rather one that truly shows the power of music.

Kathryn’s Musikids newsletter in the following week described the moment where she remembered this connection to Bach’s fugue. She couldn’t exactly remember when she first heard it, but she remembered where she was, who played it to her and the feeling. The power of music can be found in places where you least expect it! Growing up in a small country town, the only sacred music she heard was from the dreadful sound of a an old pump organ (probably a harmonium).

Music is a universal language – understood by those who can and can’t read it.

Bach’s “Little Fugue in G minor” BWV 578

Many thanks to Kathryn Pyle, my daughter’s “Musiteacher“, for inspiration for this post.

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