First lessons in silence

I’m writing these blogs about music to provide momentary diversion from the sad lunacy that has gripped the corporate/government /media complex.  If I blog about Jump Jim Crow those readers of nearby bandwidth may recognize a metaphor for beautiful and honorable statues. 

I still own a teacher scrawled upon Schirmer edition entitled “First Lessons in Bach.”  Recently I lightheartedly referred to my initial piano teacher as “vivid”; she was in truth an acquired taste.  I’m only six, so her age, of course, was of impossible estimation.  She was a rehearsal pianist for the Cleveland Orchestra; imagine that.

I spent the day of our first lesson digging in dirt, slipping accidently into ponds, running the bases under a hot afternoon sun, and testing out some worms on the way home.  I’m gloriously aromatic.  In counterpoint she wore a huge fur coat with scarf, babushka, and dress saturated in perfumes and beads.  My mother brings a pot of that poison smelling drink called “coffee” and lays an ashtray next to the piano; the bars of my prison are constructed of stinks.  She sits too close.

But I learned to love those lessons.  (I later discovered they were of an unusual quality.)  She started me with rhythm; keeping a steady beat first on the desk and then in my head.  Satisfied with my ability, she said   “Now, before you begin to play you must take a moment of silence and hear a full measure in your head.  Then you may begin.”

And she held me to it for years.  It was the most ideal gift of good habit a teacher could possibly impart.

Silence is at the wellspring of music.  It is also the canvass of music.  You hear it at church every Sunday; the few noiseless seconds when everybody knows the hymn will now call us to order.  You can hear it at Hill Auditorium on a good Saturday night.  Someday I will blog about the great silences I have heard.

Quiet makes you stop and think. We grow contemplative, shielded and detached from a world of incessant noise; a constant din that seems to disconnect many people from organized thinking.   A thoughtless and shallow slice of our population grabs any type of digital media spreader and eternally blasts away.  Their soulless clamor, based upon primitive terrace dynamics, becomes a meaningless and disagreeable distortion. 

It bears no relation to an audible example of goodwill and generosity.

People need a measure of silence in order to identify, gather, and collate their most noble thoughts.

Artisans and skilled craftsmen first create internally.  Think of the man who contemplates silently upon a piece of wood and then manufactures something admirable.

He creates an adjunct form of communication.

He creates music.

Michael James has been a professional guitarist and Public School music educator for over forty years

I’m writing these blogs about music to provide momentary diversion from the sad lunacy that has gripped the corporate/government /media complex.  If I blog about Jump Jim Crow those readers of nearby bandwidth may recognize a metaphor for beautiful and honorable statues. 

I still own a teacher scrawled upon Schirmer edition entitled “First Lessons in Bach.”  Recently I lightheartedly referred to my initial piano teacher as “vivid”; she was in truth an acquired taste.  I’m only six, so her age, of course, was of impossible estimation.  She was a rehearsal pianist for the Cleveland Orchestra; imagine that.

I spent the day of our first lesson digging in dirt, slipping accidently into ponds, running the bases under a hot afternoon sun, and testing out some worms on the way home.  I’m gloriously aromatic.  In counterpoint she wore a huge fur coat with scarf, babushka, and dress saturated in perfumes and beads.  My mother brings a pot of that poison smelling drink called “coffee” and lays an ashtray next to the piano; the bars of my prison are constructed of stinks.  She sits too close.

But I learned to love those lessons.  (I later discovered they were of an unusual quality.)  She started me with rhythm; keeping a steady beat first on the desk and then in my head.  Satisfied with my ability, she said   “Now, before you begin to play you must take a moment of silence and hear a full measure in your head.  Then you may begin.”

And she held me to it for years.  It was the most ideal gift of good habit a teacher could possibly impart.

Silence is at the wellspring of music.  It is also the canvass of music.  You hear it at church every Sunday; the few noiseless seconds when everybody knows the hymn will now call us to order.  You can hear it at Hill Auditorium on a good Saturday night.  Someday I will blog about the great silences I have heard.

Quiet makes you stop and think. We grow contemplative, shielded and detached from a world of incessant noise; a constant din that seems to disconnect many people from organized thinking.   A thoughtless and shallow slice of our population grabs any type of digital media spreader and eternally blasts away.  Their soulless clamor, based upon primitive terrace dynamics, becomes a meaningless and disagreeable distortion. 

It bears no relation to an audible example of goodwill and generosity.

People need a measure of silence in order to identify, gather, and collate their most noble thoughts.

Artisans and skilled craftsmen first create internally.  Think of the man who contemplates silently upon a piece of wood and then manufactures something admirable.

He creates an adjunct form of communication.

He creates music.

Michael James has been a professional guitarist and Public School music educator for over forty years