Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial Day Reflections

I watched a terrific Memorial Day tribute this morning and it really got me into the right spirit of what this holiday is all about. It was the live broadcast of "Music and the Spoken Word," and when it is up on their website I'll include a link to it. You don't want to miss this one!

Here are a few of the highlights from the "spoken word" part of the program, from Lloyd Newell. (These are his words, not mine. And he says them in such a beautiful, soothing way!)

"How can we say thank you to such heroes? How can we express heartfelt gratitude for the men and women who have given so much in our behalf?

We can remember.

To remember is to build on the foundation of freedom they laid, so their loss is not a bitter end, but a beginning of better times. To remember is to read and share their stories, so their memory remains alive and fresh. Remembering means we strive to avoid making the same mistakes that made their sacrifice necessary. To remember is to think of them as they thought of themselves – not as heroes of extraordinary bravery, but simply as regular people who recognized their duty, and tried hard to do it.

We can reflect often on the price of freedom, the courage it takes to maintain it, and the men and women who had that courage and paid that price.... To be held in sacred remembrance is the finest tribute of all."

I created this video last summer and posted it last fall, but want to share it again as my way of honoring and remembering those who have paid the price of freedom, that we may have the opportunity to courageously maintain it. Please feel free to share it if you like.

Happy Memorial Day!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

An Unforgettable First

I got to be part of the coolest experience - one that came as quite a surprise - and was reminded why I feel so lucky to get to do what I do!

I've been a violin teacher since I was fifteen. (And that is another story - a great one!) That's 20 years I've been doing this now... and in all that time, most of my students have been children or teenagers. I've had only a handful of adult students. But they are a blast to teach, so when one comes along, it's a rare delight. Yesterday was one of those times.

It was her very first lesson, the very first time she'd ever put the violin under her chin, even though it's been a dream of hers for several years. When she drew her bow across each string - for the first time ever - it was the coolest experience to witness. Her eyes filled with tears and she said, "I can't believe how beautiful this is."

I think as much as describing the sound she heard, she was describing how the sound felt to her soul. She put her hand on her chest and I knew what she was feeling. It was the beginning of realizing a dream. Finding a part of yourself that you'd always hoped was there. Feeling the vibrations of the strings ring deep into your being and it is real and exactly as she said, beautiful. These are the things that literally moved her to tears through the beauty of the experience, even though at the moment you really don't need to pinpoint or verbalize why. I felt so honored to get to witness such a deeply satisfying moment in her life.

An interesting memory came back to me as this was happening. When I was 18, my dad took me to watch our new foal step out of her little fenced-in habitat for the first time, and into the much broader world of the round pen. She looked like a baby deer with her skinny little legs and miniature body. At first she hesitated at the open gate, as though there were still a barrier that only she could see. But she soon bravely took a step across that invisible line, and the step turned into a happy little run, which quickly turned into a wild tear through her newly opened world, with a few hops and kicks thrown in just for fun. It was so amazing to watch her sheer delight as she realized what she could do now. I'm so grateful that my dad had the foresight to include me in this moment of her life.

Back to the studio yesterday - it was that same kind of exhilarating, inspiring, and somehow sacred moment, all at the same time. I could tell she was a little embarrassed by her unexpected reaction, but I told her, "No, it's good! Let it out! This is a beautiful thing to experience and it's important to let yourself feel it." I can't wait to be in the audience someday when she performs, because I get the feeling she's going to have us crying, too. Her joy is going to be felt as well as heard. And that is a beautiful thing to be part of.