Music in Turbulent Times

Unless you live on a deserted island somewhere in the Pacific Ocean you will be well aware of recent developments in American politics. I’ve been struggling to figure out what to make of it all. As a left-leaning, liberal artist it’s obvious how I’m reacting. Indeed, most of the people in my circle feel the same way. We share a collective anxiety about the future. A downside of being creative is that my imagination is on steroids most of the time. All that said, that’s not what I’m writing about today. The past 48 hours have reaffirmed for me why I do what I do.

Everyone has their way of escaping. Drugs, alcohol, long distance running, video games, and of course binge watching. For me, being involved in music is more than just a way of running from uncomfortable issues; it’s my lifeline to my soul and sanity. Boy am I glad that I have it at times like this.

For anyone who is baffled by why art exists and why there are always people desperately begging that it be better funded in schools, this is why. Art is a way to cope with issues well beyond our control. Beethoven didn’t stop composing because Napoleon couldn’t check his ego, he became a better composer. Sitting at my instrument, playing, improvising, teaching are all things that help me forget about issues beyond my control and bring me back to what really matters: celebrating the beauty of being alive.

As a teacher, being in service of others is way of becoming less obsessed about the unknowns of the world. Over the last few days, putting together a versatile curriculum for some new students who are incredibly intelligent has helped keep my mind off of things I would normally worry about more. I’m thankful for opportunities to grow and improve as a teacher and I’m grateful that I have the honour of working with people of diverse ages and backgrounds. That’s what it’s all about. Music is an indiscriminate medium that resonates beyond the imaginary barriers that divide us. One of the most effective ice-breakers there is is getting people to sing together in a choir. Music is a form of love.

What better time for those seeking some kind of creative motivation than now. Write about it, talk about it, sing about it, compose about it, paint about it; do what you need to do to get it out of your body and into the world. After all, when we look back on historical periods we can know what people did through facts, see what they did through photography, but it’s art that gives us a window into their souls.

Vive la musique!


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