April 18, 2008 at 9:08 PM
Where I live it is no secret that I’m a violinist as I’m seen lugging my violin, music, and all the requisite accessories up and down three flights of stairs and across the parking lot multiple times a day. And, after all that, if anyone had any doubt all they’d have to do is look at the bumper sticker on the rear window of my car proclaiming: Classical Musician – Handel with Care.
But sometime ago, as I was grabbing my mail a man stopped me in my tracks with the question: “Are you the woman upstairs who plays the violin?” A little surprised I said yes and he told me that he liked to sit and listen after he got home from work and had time to relax. As we chatted he mentioned that several nights before I had played something he had really liked. I thanked him and asked him if was a long-time fan of classical and he said no that he never “listened to it.” For a moment I was slightly offended…what on earth did he think I was playing? But after we went our separate ways I realized that he had actually given both me and classical music a compliment. He didn’t associate my music with his preconceived notion of what he thought classical music was – stuffy, elitist and hard to understand. After thinking about the music I had played the night that he mentioned I realized that I had been pressed for time that night and so I spent 20 minutes or so playing one of my favorite pieces – Mozart’s Adagio before rushing off somewhere.
Only a week or so ago, I was deep in the middle of a practice session when a knock sounded at my door. I answered the door a little annoyed that I had been disturbed. A woman was there and told me that she was on her way home but she wanted to let me know that she appreciated hearing me play. She said that she had always wanted to learn to play but never had. Before I could say more than thank you she said good-bye and went home.
These little “blips” in my life are a critical reminder to myself that above everything else, classical music is about sharing and communicating with the listener. When I play, I hear the many facets of the music, technical and musical, but when that neighbor downstairs hears me play they hear something beautiful.
May I never forget that many years ago hearing something beautiful was where I began…where we all began.
We lived in a flat when we first came to Poland, and nearby lived a young girl who had been studying piano at music school for many years. She would always do tons of practising prior to exams in the summer and it was a joy to listen to her. Very often I would stand on the balcony outside of our flat listening for some minutes while she played with her window open.
I got the opportunity to tell her how much I enjoyed her playing, when I finally worked out who it was!
It's wonderful to think that people who might not go to a concert are enjoying classical music!
For a while, my next door neighbor was a music teacher, musician, and composer. He later told me that he really enjoyed listening to me practice. Some nights one of the neighbors would play country music, especially "Ache-y Breaky Heart," very loudly when he was trying to sleep, and he absolutely could not stand it. He'd go to sleep on the couch, where he could listen to me practicing. There he'd calm down and sleep. He especially liked hearing me play Bach. Several years later, after he had moved away, he started a community symphony orchestra, and he invited me to join. I never suspected that while I was playing I was also auditioning.
Classical music makes a chain in which the person playing and the people listening are linked. sometimes out of the concert hall.
As long as the weather is nice, I always oblige.
Hi, I am your neighbour opposite. I have two cats. My name is xxx.
I just want to say that whoever plays the violin/cello plays so beautifully! I love to listen to you. I am a huge fan of classical music, and I used to pay the violin myself (when I was at school!) Now I play the piano.
Anyways, I just wanted to tell you how lovely your playing is, and what a pleasure it is to hear.
As you can see in the video I just posted, my playing is not at all beautiful. Somehow those practise noises managed to touch a complete stranger. So, I guess the message is music, no matter how badly played, still able to touch people.
I have a story of my own too... I was staying at a host family's house while subbing with a symphony, and spent the evening practicing the Bach EM Preludio painstakingly slowly and carefully. I was embarrassed to hear later that the family had turned off the tv and spent over an hour just listening to my practice session!
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