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Daniel Broniatowski

Music as a Reflection of Life

October 5, 2012 at 11:57 PM

Music as a Reflection of Life

Recently, I was preoccupied with the quintessential existential question that plagues musicians in my field. That question is “What is the relevance of Classical Music in the modern world?”

I spent a good deal of time thinking about this and trying to figure out how to write about our purpose in society. Then it occurred to me. How much more could Bach, Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven have pondered the same question in an era when Classical Music was barely developed! Did they really care what the audience thought? Probably, to some extent, but it certainly didn’t stop them from composing the way they wished throughout their entire lives.

Suddenly, the atonal composer Arnold Schoenberg comes to mind. If you really want to explore the music of someone who was indifferent to being appreciated by society at large, listen to his atonal works, such as Pierrot Lunaire!
We artists and musicians are on a life-long journey. We follow the courage of our convictions without necessarily knowing where we are going. We desperately want security but in order to be creative, we must realize that security is an illusion. There is no other way, if we are to follow our inner voice. Otherwise, we follow the voices of others.

Now, let me clarify something: When I say "Security is an illusion", I do not mean that we should live in poverty.
Keep reading to see what I mean.

The inner voice I referred to, my friends, is exactly what I am going to spend the rest of my article writing about.

You see, my personal belief is that it is this inner voice that can and will guide musician and non-musician alike in life. It is very scary to admit that our lives are not completely in our control.

In fact, I will go even a step further and say that the inner voice that I speak of is not even ours. We do not control what the voice says and we do not decide what it is going to tell us so that we can “make it” or “make it big”. Now, in order not to sound schizophrenic, let’s replace “inner voice” with “intuition”. Intuition is the process of realization that tells us “Ah hah, now I understand”. If you reread the above paragraph with this replaced word, you might come to a better understanding of what I just said.

Let’s bring my high floating ideas down to earth and apply this to everyday life. Take the example of a teenager or college student who is trying to decide what to do with the rest of his or her life. He or she might have many options. Yet, at the end of the day, the soul will incline toward a particular career or job. Think the young man or woman must be highly educated to even make these decisions?

I beg to differ. We all have a purpose dictated by the fact that we are the sum total of our experiences which shape us at a very young age. After all, didn’t cavemen make music?

Let me now share my experience. I know that I love making music. I love the experience of playing music and perfecting my talent, which only exists because of a gift from my Creator. Because my soul is naturally inclined toward sharing my gift with others, I get pleasure from presenting concerts and performances in which my talent comes through. Yet, I do not get a selfish pleasure in showing off. Rather, I know that the gift I was given came from a Higher Power and because of this, I recognize that whenever I pick up the violin, it is my way of saying “Thank You” to my Creator. I also know that when I doubt my ability to succeed with my talent, I am consequently doubting G-d’s plan for me because I know deep in my bones that this is my path.

So to me, practicing and performing is a form of prayer. It is all about giving. People in my audience who are touched by my playing are not really touched because of me. Rather, they are touched by the music that is played through me, as a natural extension of my soul. That is why when I get compliments for a job-well done, I do not let it go to my approval-seeking ego.

As I continue the journey, I know that my intuition will keep me on the right path. To other musicians and non-musicians who question their relevance in an increasingly difficult economy, I say “Have faith and listen to that inner voice”. It will come to you if you cultivate the art of sitting quietly and learn to be calm under fire from whatever may come your way. Some call this skill meditation. Others call it reflection, while still others call it prayer. Meanwhile, let us all try our best to help each other and support our fellow man and woman in these tough times.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

From ruth shellard
Posted on October 6, 2012 at 10:44 PM
Yes, I agree it's a gift from God and we can come close to God through music and help others do the same. It's a spiritual experience.

From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on October 7, 2012 at 12:07 AM
I agree, it's definitivly a gift may it be from god or from the "less beautiful" idea of natural selection.

I thank endlessly those who have this gift and share it with us and for those with a more limited gift but endless love/passion, all my deepest respect(since I am in that category myself :)!

Great blog and you definitivly seem to use your gift the right way!

From sharelle taylor
Posted on October 7, 2012 at 12:36 AM
I wonder if it a first world kind of problem to wonder about 'relevance' and try to support the existence of classical music, or art, or french films, whatever.
Classical music gives me pleasure. It might be intellectual, or emotional or awe struck, but I think it just always hits the pleasure spot in my brain.
On the converse, when asked to listen to say Glass or Schoenberg, I don't have to hear why they are relevant, or what they are reflecting or challenging me with, or why they are 'good' works. They give me no pleasure.
From ruth shellard
Posted on October 7, 2012 at 1:03 PM
Replying to Anne-Marie, a gift has to have a giver - natural selection cannot give, it happens so it has to be from our Triune God, our creator
From Andrei Pricope
Posted on October 7, 2012 at 7:15 PM
Oh, Ruth, really?!?
From ruth shellard
Posted on October 7, 2012 at 9:52 PM
Andre, you don't give much away 'oh really?' Natural selection passes down, but giving comes from a person. Anyway, whatever semantics we play at, my belief is God gives us the ability to make instruments to play them. If you read Revelation, it talks of harps in heaven. You might prefer to believe in natural selection, but I would much rather have a living God to thank for my music and that God I believe in is the Christian God.

From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on October 7, 2012 at 10:44 PM
Hi, Ruth, it's true that in the expression "gift", there must be a giver. I didn't though about that one : )

If I take the example of Husein Bolt, we could say he has a gift to run fast... but we also know that he's a lucky one who happens to be able to run that fast. Even with the best training and tons of prayers, not everyone could.

That's why I say that there is a beautiful and ugly side to violin as in every performing art or sport.

But, definitivly, music is a spiritual experience and may we beleive or not in god, it has the power to make us better people and teach us so much...

From Asher Wade
Posted on October 10, 2012 at 5:53 PM
I agree with "all-of-the-above" [seriously], and find it curious that one of my closest friend (a semi-retired concert pianist) said to me that she envies me being an "amateur" musician (violin/viola); because I do it out of pure passion {cause 'nobody' in their right mind would 'pay' to listen to what "I" do on the violin), while she made music a career and thus has to help "feed-the-family" with her 'profession', thus, she's often forced to play music which she doesn't particularly like or connect with ('cause it pays the bills). Looking at music from that perspective, I guess she right; I "am" fortunate to be an amateur and, yes, I 'only' play music I adore and, thus, I obviously connect with. Granted, she doesn't regret "studying" music [which I didn't do] and, thereby, she can play music on a far greater skill level than I ~ but, still, ...even she knows that I probably reach a level of spiritual bliss in "every" piece that I play, while she hits that level only every now & again (when her favorite composers or pieces appear "on-the-program" - or, at home for fun [which is seldom]). So, yes, music & playing "non-"professionally is for me a passion &, now, I see it as an advantage (no offense to the professionals out there, ...I still buy your CDs!!!).

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