Joy in Music

“You’re not paying attention!”

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He had jumped from the piano bench accentuating the not with a pounding of the final chord and pointed his finger directly toward me. I had sung through a rest. The jolly good fortune of being five foot two and singing alto had placed me in the front row and with cameras and tape rolling, mine had been the lone voice carrying a single tone while fifty other voices had remained silent.  I thought myself wonderfully gifted to be in the church choir. 


A simple feeling of immense pride and we all know what comes as a direct result of pride.  My face radiated immediate warmth, my ears rung and my adolescent ego struggled to hold back the tears. We were spending another Saturday afternoon at the television studio, taping the musical numbers that would accompany our church program.  In my memory, it was very much a striving for perfection, a pristine line up of shiny satin robes edged in gold, smartly stopping at the edge of dutifully lined up feet.  There was little room for error.  In fact, there seemed little room for joy.  The older women brought bags of cosmetics and cans of hair spray, changes of clothing and were more than happy to donate their weekend to the endeavor that began early in the morning and lasted late into the afternoon.  That one rest changed the way I participated from that point on and it was only for a short time that I dutifully lined up for much of anything. Perhaps not the pivotal drama I remember, but
singing for me was all about prescription and following and being like everybody else.  The notes on the page were only a guideline.

 

But there IS joy in music. We humans do not put the joy IN music. It is there whether we participate or not. The irony being, we can take a lot of joy out of music, whether it be by order or prescription, or by the sheer pleasure of bending and blending tones with rhythm, words and phrases, stops and starts.  Or even a little rain.

 

 

 

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