Do you believe in super powers?
I don’t either, exactly. But wouldn’t it be cool to have one? What if I told you we as musicians have something pretty close? I’m convinced we do.
The day after the Orlando shooting I had several private lessons and I discussed this Leonard Bernstein quote with my more mature students:
I asked them what they thought it meant and we came to some important conclusions together.
One of them (which I hadn’t thought of) was that our reaction to the strife in our life can be to make music for ourselves. To practice our instruments or another art and use that as our way of dealing with the anxiety life hands to us. To express what is within in a constructive manner rather than a violent one.
The second one, the one I had in mind, was that our music-making can have a significant effect on the audience that hears us play. At any given performance, there will certainly be untold pain in the crowd. There may be recent divorces, family tragedies and financial woes.
What if the way we played our notes could lead the person considering suicide to give tomorrow a chance? What if the way we sang our lyrics made a couple considering divorce remember the magic they used to have? What if a well placed silence could be the thing that stops someone from walking into Pulse night club, killing 49 and wounding 53?
Many people use live music as a way to escape, for relief, as a way to recover. Whether its at a concert hall or a bar, a night club or a corporate gig we will always be handed the opportunity to make people feel. What they feel is up to hundreds of factors, yes, but one of those factors is us.
Is there potential for a well-delivered show to offer relief from a year’s worth of turmoil? It happened to me at the beginning of this year when Snarky Puppy came to Tampa and laid it all out before my eyes. I’m not a crier, but if I were a crier I would have flooded the place. While 2015 was the best year of my professional life it was easily the worst in my personal life. They took the misery off my shoulders, I felt it all flow, (maybe melt?) off my body. I don’t have an explanation for it, but I bet you have a similar story to tell too.
I think the ability to do that for people is a super power, or at least as close as we can get.
Maybe that’s arrogant, or wishful thinking but after so many “You made me remember my dad”‘s and “I’ve had a terrible week and you took it all away”‘s I’m convinced it’s reality.
May we be so devoted to our craft that the intensity and beauty of our music heals the hearts of our audience.
My condolences and moral support are with the families of the victims. My deep affection is with the survivors and with the many who are donating blood, money, time, and tons of love to those who have been affected. You are truly beautiful.
The terrorists win once we’re terrified. My prayer is that as the world appears to get darker and darker, we’ll see the light in the thousands who always react with love to tragedies and that we won’t let fear stop us from growing closer to one another.