When I was a child, I was completely awed by musicians, especially piano players. I wanted to be like them. I wanted to create those enchanting sounds that seemed to have such a powerful influence on the people who listened. My parents agreed to let me take piano lessons when I was nine years old (after much begging and pleading), and I soon discovered that I could play by ear. I continued studying music anyway, poring over the notes and attempting to play in the structured, controlled way that I was taught. In order to ‘pay my dues’ for lessons, I had to play hymns in church. I was told by more than one Baptist preacher that if I didn’t ‘use my talent for God, He would take it away from me.’ Terrified that I’d somehow lose the ability to make music, I played those dry, dreadful hymns every Sunday until I was old enough to leave home. I have often wondered what I could have produced if I had spent less time doing what others thought was right…and more time cultivating my true Goddess-given talent. Many years passed before I gained the courage to find my own voice.
Despite the twisted way that I became a piano player, I have never lost my love for music. It is the one thing that can bring serenity to my world in a matter of minutes. There is something sacred and primordial in the sounds we hear. Something made the first human beings open up their voices and sing. Something made them hear distinct notes, harmonies, and rhythms. Something made them craft musical instruments to accompany the songs they were writing in their hearts. Music is vibrational. It is energy. It has the power to lift us far above mundane concerns into higher realms of thought and expression. For me, it is one of the finest gifts the universe could have bestowed upon humanity.
Like all forms of energy, music can be inspiring or it can take you to a very dark place. It takes whatever shape the composer gives it. I think it’s probably fair to say that listening to a Bach concerto will make you feel better than listening to music that is all about loss, tragedy, anger, death, etc. Both have their places, so it’s all a matter of what you’d rather allow into your consciousness. Having cycled through phases of heavy metal and grunge in my younger days, I can vouch for the fact that music will influence a person’s outlook. I was a pissed-off, very repressed teenager, so I chose music that matched my mood perfectly. Then I became a rather idealistic hippie-chick college student who stayed immersed in jam bands and folk rock. These days, I have music from many different genres on my iPod, but most of my playlists include songs that uplift. I’d just rather hear positive messages, since the world contains enough negativity.
As for my own compositions, I usually just sit down at the piano and allow the melodies to come through. I never know what sounds will be produced until I start playing. Later on this year, I hope to pick up a guitar and perhaps try my hand at songwriting. My journey into the world of music may have had a rough start, but I like the direction it’s taking now. As Aaron Copland said, “To stop the flow of music would be like the stopping of time itself, incredible and inconceivable.”