Playing Your Part

is-there-anything-spiritual-about-great-works-of-art1The following was sent to me by Maxim Matushevsky, a Bnei Baruch member from Moscow:
Do you remember your first steps as you began to study music? You sit on an uncomfortable stool with your feet barely touching the floor. Before you there is a disobedient and stiff keyboard, above it is a music book full of scribble, unintelligible signs, and notes in Italian. Next to you there is a teacher.

You try hard to understand what is encoded on this printed sheet, while almost breaking the joints of your fingers as you attempt to place them on the right keys in the right order and with the right pressure. The cacophony of your efforts fill the room. Your teacher is displeased. You consider yourself a dunce and a loser.

You hate the composer. He must be a pervert: how can one compose this let alone play it? He must have had five hands. You are angry with your teacher, your parents, yourself and this stupid instrument. Meanwhile the sun shines outside, boys play soccer and laugh. No! I will never play this! Let me go!

Days have passed. Your fingers get used to striking the right keys. You can even discern some fragments of a melody (wow!) that sounds not too bad.

Weeks have passed. You no longer look at the music sheet, your fingers carry you along the keyboard. Suddenly you catch yourself enjoying this beautiful multilayered polyphonic melody! You are proud of yourself; you experience an ocean of emotions. So that’s what the composer experienced when he created this beautiful music! What if I put an accent on this place? And in doing so you hear a new sound and new emotions arise!

This music is beautiful and infinite! You feel an affinity with the composer. You are thankful to him for helping you to experience this excitement. You are thankful to your teacher, who did not spare you and made you learn to read music. You are free and happy!

But where is the freedom? You strictly play the music following what someone composed in accordance with the strict laws of harmony. However, now you can contribute your tiny part through the performance and interpretation of the composition, without breaking its plan and integrity. You become a co-composer! It’s your instrument, it’s YOUR music, and it is composed for YOU to play it!

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