I had a magical day in Mattoon, Illinois, today. While waiting for some work to be done on our car, I went to the local mall and visited the new fabric store for the first time. What a pleasure it is to go into a store where everyone there is just brimming with possible ways of expressing themselves. It is a brand new store, so most of the people were there were also in it for the first time.
I sat down at a table covered with pattern books and remarked to the person sitting across from me (a woman around my mother's age) how nice it was to be in such a place, and to have it in town. Then we began talking about anything and everything for about two hours (it turns out that her late husband was a local band director, and she had been to our last Summer Strings concert). She drove me to my arranged coffee rendezvous (which was brief, but lovely), and then I went to play for a class of fourth graders at a local elementary school.
It was an exceptionally bright and engaged class of kids. I talked about the viola and played them some Bach. Then I opened the floor for questions, which turned immediately into requests: cowboy songs, songs from movies, themes from video games, Beatles tunes, and Christmas carols. They sang along, and some kids even got up and danced.
One girl asked me if I knew anything from Sleeping Beauty, so I played her the Waltz. After I was finished she said, "That brings me to my happy place, and I didn't even know I had a happy place."
Them's fightin' words.
Isn't that what it's all about?
I paid a little homage to my brother too. I read in a Facebook post from one of his colleagues that once during a demonstration of range on the instruments in a string quartet, Marshall went from the viola's open C string all the way into the upper reaches of the A string, far above where the fingerboard ends. I did that today. The kids loved it. One kid even gasped.