Thankful for Music

I’m glad I met my husband as early in life as I did, and I’m glad we met at music school, and in the same major, no less. As my recital preparations drew to a close I felt as though I were emerging from a fog of music-induced stress. I’m excited about what the future holds in music, excited to be finishing my formal studies, and excited to return to being a true “amateur,” one who does it for the love of it. While I expect music will be central to my “professional life,” I am finding comfort in the realization that there is life after the draining effects of a conservatory undergraduate education. So many people graduate with music degrees to find music has been ruined for them. I’m glad, and relieved, to be discovering that’s not the case. I was desperate to be out from under the slave-driver that my recital became. Now that it’s done I’m daydreaming about the next pieces I’ll learn, the next concert I’ll play–and not for a diploma, this time.

Last night we celebrated my finished recital by attending a concert by the Saint Paul Chamber Ochestra at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in downtown St. Paul. What a venue! The music was overtures to a John Cage ballet, a Brahms quartet, and Beethoven’s first symphony. Whether or not I liked the Cage very much, I understood all of it. And whether or not I agreed with all the artistic and technical choices the young guest conductor made, I was thoroughly engrossed in his performance, a young conductor myself.

It occurred to me, sitting there, two balconies above where my pastor and his wife happened to be sitting on the same evening, enjoying the same music,  that God has given Mike & me a tremendous gift in the musical background we have in common. If He is indeed leading us down a road toward pastoral ministry, there are going to be times we’ll need a break from the drain and strain of life. Last night as we drove toward the concert we had a brief discussion about the nature of modality and choices pertaining to harmonizing a modal hymn tune. As I reflected on that intensely nerdy (and by no means unusual) moment, and on the “failed pivot tone modulation” we laughed at in the Beethoven, I realized that all our lives we will be able to take a step back into the world of music for respite. In high school Mike threw himself headlong into a study of math because despite all the uncertainty and ugliness of the life around him, he knew math was true and dependable. Music is no different.

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