In an era increasingly when all of us are glued to our smart phones and tablets, there is very little required of us to immediately connect to the rest of the world. The irony is that the easier technology makes it for us, the harder it can be for us to emotionally come together with people who sit right next to us.
Classical music, I would argue, stirs our higher-level thinking, imagination, creativity, emotions, and feelings with an intensity that is quite special – and in a way a smart phone never can.
From an artist's point of view, classical music requires years of preparation, training, discipline, flexibility, and interpretation. These are learned skills that are transferrable to the rest of life. And kids introduced to classical music early in life just plain do better.
Those of us who studied music understand the rigors and rewards of music instruction. We learned valuable lessons about musical development, but also community building, support, and fun. We “learned how to learn” from other kids our own age, how to compete, how to work as a team member, and how to exist in this world.
Music for me was more than study – it was an integral part of every day life. Playing in a group was key to my childhood. I learned a lot about shared values, discipline, life skills, and self-esteem through the transformative power of collaborative music making.
Now, when I attend a concert, I listen technically and critically, and am reminded about the benefits of all those lessons from an instructional point of view. But, when the phrase is executed just right, the intonation is perfect, and the orchestra hits its groove, my spirit takes over.
This happened twice recently. At the beginning of the Philharmonic’s season, Joshua Bell’s rendition of the Bernstein Serenade lifted my spirit, emotions came to the fore, and I was in awe not only of his artistry but also of the collective effort taking place on stage. And, in the encore, the first chord gave me goose bumps. Serene, heart rending, and unabashedly sentimental, the Ladies in Lavender theme took me to that exalted place that all of us who truly love music go when everything perfectly aligns.
And in October, at Bach in the Barn, I sat in silence watching the audience thrill to our wonderful orchestra performing rarely heard baroque selections in the bucolic setting of Joseph Decuis Farm. The combination of the orchestra’s performance, the “up close up and personal” nature of the experience, and the generous, receptive atmosphere in the room made this a breathtaking experience I wish we could share with many more people.
That’s why music matters.