Sunday, May 31, 2015

Music and Children (and concerts and weddings)

Our quartet played music for a wedding yesterday. Just before we started the prelude a boy who looked about four ran up to us and pointed out to his mother that one of us was playing a cello. She almost apologetically told us that he watches YouTube videos. I told the boy's mother that it was fine with us if he stood by us and listened. He did. He stood there for the whole time we were playing, often moving his left hand in sympathy with our cellist's left hand. Sometimes he danced.

It was a long wedding ceremony, and he kept quiet as long as the priest was talking, but when things got really quiet (like during the vows) he wanted to tell us things about himself (that he fell and skinned his knees while he was at the zoo). At that point his mother whisked him away, despite his protests. She let him come back to hear more of the music. I certainly hope that his parents get him a cello and find him a good teacher in the not-too-distant future.

What I loved about this was that not only did this boy physically enjoy the music, he considered the four of us people he would like to talk with. Perhaps he found his "people."

There was a young bridesmaid who was sitting near us (she looked to be about five). Her mother brought her off to the bathroom during the ceremony, and while she was returning to her pew she whispered to me, "I like THAT." Maybe she noticed that the boy was all agog about the cello, and she thought that the viola was more to her taste.

There were babies crying here and there, which made me think about Wigmore Hall's "For Crying Out Loud" series. It's a series of concerts where parents pay admission, and babies (who must be under one year), come for free. The performers are Royal Academy of Music students who might benefit from performing in an environment that might be less than quiet. I imagine it is probably a nice place for parents of infants to meet other parents of infants who like music. There are also concerts geared for one-year-olds and two-year-olds and their parents.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yehudi Menuhin spoke about his childhood experience which hooked him on the violin. Such was this experience with the young boy, it is most likely.

As an opposite of these positive images, I saw a music teacher storm down the aisle to slam a piano lid after a high school concert because a youth sat down to improvise. The remark made by said 'teacher' was "we don't do that here." By the way the improvisation was the best music in that evening, in spite of the music teacher and his misplaced ire.

The lesson remains the same as it has been for centuries. Close up experiences with music making and music makers make new music makers. And cutting this from school budgets in favor of a new psychologist or administrator seeking their pensions is a form of modern folly, in which exposure to arts of all kinds is being stripped away in favor of the "more" of bureaucrats, short-sighted and as it seems money-grubbing.

Art will survive, as long as the little ones can come up to a cellist -- or violist -- and go gaga over the wonder which is music making. From pop churches to pop videos to pop psychology, the depth of art and the arts is being withheld from the next generation. Folly indeed.

And the opposite of folly is the crystallizing experience, so taught Menuhin.