I have always respected talented musicians. This may be in part from having only a trace of musical ability myself. Maybe I simply respected their confidence in performing even when the audience seemed inattentive.

In undergrad, for some reason, I associated primarily with musicians—-percussionists, guitar players, keyboardists--and enjoyed their performances immensely. I even was a roadie at a few summer concerts for a friend’s band, but of course they broke up when school started again. Back then, I seemed to be more aware of the ignored beauty of music.

I even took a few months of piano lessons as a sophomore, but really struggled to plink-out a two-handed version of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” I found the lessons more entertaining just in watching the mannerisms of my instructor. She was a graduate of the prestigious Juilliard School and offered instruction in her home-—lessons that included distractions from time to time. She seemed frustrated or perhaps underappreciated.

At least once per visit, her young children would storm into the house rough-housing, and my teacher would transform into a professional bouncer (grimacing with muscles bulging), scold them in a loud threatening outburst, and send them back outside. She was probably glad that I stopped the lessons after a semester in that I drove her crazy with my preference to memorize the practice pieces instead of sight-reading them.

YouTube has been wonderful for me to see gifted yet unknown or not well-known musicians. It reinforces my believe that there is talent all over the world, and despite what music promoters want us to believe, Blessed musicians are not shaped from a cookie-cutter and who work as undergarment models on the side.

The lack of respect that many talented musicians receive is also thought-provoking. One of the guitarists that I most admire has a Tube video showing him playing on a street corner somewhere in Europe, as people walk by ignoring his performance and collection hat.

I was especially saddened by this video of Tony MacAlpine, an accomplished musician, playing piano at a trade show several years ago:

MacAlpine is performing several difficult compositions by Chopin (Correction: the audio of MacAlpine playing Chopin's Etude #4, Opus #10 is here) and barely attracting a handful of listeners. You would think that the attendees would at least stay until he was finished—-maybe that is just the Southerner in me.

Philosopher Erich Fromm stated: “Who will tell whether one happy moment of love or the joy of breathing or walking on a bright morning and smelling the fresh air, is not worth all the suffering and effort which life implies.”

Perhaps, while immersed in my own issues, I am missing some grand performance as the people in the video did. Maybe, with some reflection, I still have time to alter my course; to stop and see the precious smile on my daughter's little face, and to listen to that Chopin playing before the final note.


mappchik said...

Great post - and video clip.

Not only did I not ignore the amazing piano playing on the screen, I pulled my daughter (budding pianist) onto my lap to watch. Wow! Then, we clicked on a clip of Tony MacAlpine in the studio... and then on the guitar, by which time we'd attracted the attention of the younger of the two boys. Again, Wow!

The desk chair was rather crowded for the YouTube concert, but we enjoyed every minute of it.

Slamdunk said...

Ha, thanks for the feedback Mappchik. At least Tony was appreciated today. I think MacAlpine's training as a classical pianist provided the foundation for him to become known as a cool guitar shredder.

He was always a fav of my guitar geek friends in school, and though his talent is unbelievable, I had a hard time listening to his stuff regularly. I thought Vinnie Moore, Joe Satriani, and Steve Morse were much more listenable when discussing the "big hair" guitarists of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

liberty said...

Amen to that last paragraph!

Yeah, the musical example was good, but I really agree with the many different areas it can be applied to. We take so absalute much for granted!

Slamdunk said...

Thanks for the kind words Liberty.

imbeingheldhostage said...

WOW. I got all goose bumpy and teary eyed watching the video-- in person I might have been a blubbering idiot, but certainly not someone who just walked by. Thanks for this, I'm bringing my kids by when they're out of school.