For the last couple of weeks I’ve struggled with one page of a new piece of music. The key signature is six flats, which I can do. The complicating factor is a gazillion accidentals, making it a challenge to keep up with which notes I’m supposed to be playing.
I attempted to play the page at my last lesson. Though it must be painful for Dr. B to listen to my snail-paced error-filled playing, he’s always patient. We discussed the page, the correct notes, the nuances, and melody notes vs. accompaniment notes. “This is a difficult page for me,” I lamented, “but I promise to show improvement at my next lesson.”
Near the end of our discussion, Dr. B said, “Some say this page is like the rocking of a cradle.” Then he played a few lines himself while I followed along. I heard the cradle in his phrasing, I felt it’s slow rocking. I remembered my infant daughter in her cradle so many years ago.
The musical lightbulb came on. I will work til I can make the cradle rock, the antique cradle sitting on the floor that I slowly rock with my foot. The rise and fall of the notes will create a lullaby.
Dr. B often gives me images to ponder. As I was learning a Chopin prelude he said, “This piece is like the rolling waves of the ocean.” I learned to hear the ocean, eventually. Some phrases, some waves, are larger than others, some slower, some faster, some crashing, some coasting in to shore. I played the ocean.
For another piece, he said, “It’s like the composer is struggling to let go.” He was referring to the climax of a piece I found difficult. As I continued to practice the ending, I remembered his words, and created my own image: at the station my love has boarded the train and will be gone several months; I’m standing on the platform, reluctantly and tearfully waving goodbye as the train slowly pulls out of the station. I played the departure.
Images are helpful, not only for musical interpretations, but for how we view our life. Much earlier in my life, I often felt like a bystander, meeting expectations, but not really living the life I wanted. I bought a painting of a woman beside the water, watching the sailboats push toward the sea. That was me, watching and wishing, yearning, to be sailing. Eventually, I too, set sail, in my own boat, on my own journey.
My image now is of a bold blue horse, different than most others, but I’m determined to be the best blue horse in the universe.
Images are powerful — for good, or not so good.
- What images have guided you in the past?
- What image is guiding you now?
- Is it time to look for a new image?
- If you’ve never had an image, you might enjoy the search for one, one you can call your own.
Until next Tuesday . . .