Today was my Mom’s 98thbirthday, though not really, since she left us 5 years ago. But here at the Mini-Conference at my Carmel Valley Orff home, with 6 Nordic women who are both good friends and astound me with their talents, I once again played a jazz ballad with people lying under the piano. This one was in honor of my Mom’s birthday and though I rarely feel that I play as well I imagine I want things to sound, there were a few moments when I felt her presence.
My issues as a musician could fill a book and I know why. (It has to do with a shaky childhood foundation.) But I have had the good fortune to sometimes create an intimate space that draws people in and releases precisely the feelings I hope the music can— vulnerability, a touch of sadness, a bittersweet joy, a sense of time pausing. Many post-playing hugs from people who felt touched and that was all the affirmation I need to keep trying to inch forward musically from my shaky foundation.
Perhaps the most remarkable and welcome praise I received was from a student in my Salzburg course a few weeks back. She wrote:
When you started to play solo, I felt that sounds were going into me, taking me and carrying me to the instrument. It was strange and painful just to seat on a seat and listen to on the distance. I had a strong physical instinctive wish to be next to the instrument, to touch it, to hug it, to lay my head down on the surface and to feel, feel, feel, absorb vibrations. I was crying during the whole piece, I couldn't stop or control it.
And I was crying the whole evening after the concert. It was like pure beauty touched me.
I felt that you were hearing sounds very deeply, I felt that you were breathing, relaxed and allowed to flow to move, I heard a story. I don't remember such experience in my life. I suspected what it was to hear music by the whole being but I have never heard music that way.
I am so grateful for your musicianship and your working hard with this attitude to sound, to the sense of music. I am so grateful that your playing touched and talked with my core, not my mind.
And I am grateful so much that now I can tell you that experience.
Worthy praise, indeed. I guess I’ll stick with it. Happy birthday, Mom.