Monday, April 19, 2010
Remembering what music does.
Saturday I played for the Mesilla Valley Hospice memorial walk. It was intended that people would walk around the campus and gardens and end with a remembrance ceremony in the Veteran's Garden with words, music release white doves at the close. It rained however. It was moved inside and there were about 200 people there, the family, friends and people involved with the end of life care both inpatient and home hospice.
Two Chaplains gave words and one read a poem which I've included here. 270 names were read out loud as I played my Native flutes and an instrument called a Halo. As I heard the sniffles and gentle weeping of the crowd i was reminded how fortunate I am to have people and dogs I keep alive in my heart and how my gift of music is something that transcends my ups and downs, petty and profound moments. We moved outside to a drizzle. I began Amazing Grace on my flute while the Doves were freed and circled above us following each other so trustingly. The tears in the crowd were loud now and a girl of about 3 came up to me and tagged me telling me to look up and said, "Look up there, did you see them?" I nodded my flute in mouth up and down to indicate yes before her mother came and got her.... That was great, she reminded me "I" was certainly not the attraction--it was the birds and the sky.
What a beautiful reminder that what I do as a musician is what all musicians have done for eons; that is we connect feelings and emotions like no other art form. Whether you feel patriotic at hearing the Star Spangled Banner at the Olympics, pure joy at listening to James Brown or comforted by hearing Amazing Grace on the Native American flute something about music is universally moving. As I'm in the midst of recording and planning for upcoming tours and performances I can loose sight of the power of music. To play and hear people start to cry gives me a huge sense of responsibility and I find myself become a human instrument. My whole body and movements become the instrument I'm playing. Maybe that is from being trained and as a singer, I don't know. I talk a lot, probably too much, about how a musicians really needs to woodshed as we say, practice, explore every angle of their instrument so that you collect a huge toolbox of things you can call on for a song. It is all about expression. And think how something as simple as an alphabet or a language enables you to express yourself and you get the idea.