“Music should strike fire from the heart of man, and bring tears from the eyes of woman.” – Beethoven
I had a moment toward the end of last week that made me really sit up and take notice. I was in a dance class at the gym and I realized that the way I felt at that moment is the way I want to feel when doing my music. I wanted to feel this feeling of truly being alive and experiencing true joy. Not only did I want to feel this feeling myself, but I wanted others to feel it, as well.
I have been edging away from my classical roots over the past few months. I love classical but I feel like we are drawn to different music for very specific reasons. I have struggled with the interaction of the public with classical music. We are taught from the get-go that classical music is to be respected. We are to sit quiet and listen, clap at the appropriate times, and not to engage as audience members outside of applauding for the performers. How is this good?
I agree that all music should be respected for the purpose it plays. Music, however, is fluid. It is an expression of life. We should be encouraged to engage with the music, with the musicians, with the act of making music. Music is alive. It is perhaps the most alive art form that I have had the opportunity to experience.
The feeling of being on stage is one that I have never been able to replicate. It is a complicated mess of emotions – excitement, peace, joy, nerves, love, life. I feel more connected to others when on stage than off. I am able to be at one with myself in a much more genuine way. The closest that I have come to this feeling is going to this dance class at the gym. It is this feeling of such gratitude to be alive, to be able to have this experience, to be connected to others, to be connected to yourself. A complicated mess of emotions.
So, why do we put ourselves in a box that says we are one type of musician versus another? Why do we let the stigma surrounding the various musical genres continue? How can we bridge this gap of engagement?
There are some really wonderful moments in classical music. The evolution of music has led us through these great instrumental, orchestral, choral, and operatic moments to the music of today. Some of which is problematic but also some of which is pure artistry. There are moments that, even when listening, feel as alive as being on stage.
Music is a living, breathing art form. Shouldn’t we treat it as such? Give music your respect but also give it a piece of your energy and your soul. Engage in the art of creating music, engage in the art of others’ music. Feel the music inside you because that’s where it belongs.
Music should feel messy, clean, happy, sad, peaceful, joyous because that is what life is – a complicated mess of emotions.