Magazine article The Canadian Music Educator

Musical Doodles and Dancing

Magazine article The Canadian Music Educator

Musical Doodles and Dancing

Article excerpt

My musical life began at the age of four when my older sister begged for violin and ballet lessons and we both were given them along with our two friends next door (Morgan-the older, and Cimarron). The violin lessons were a terribly squeaky and headache-inducing start for me in the basement of a well-meaning church in North Vancouver. Although my efforts were great, I did not stand a chance against my critical self-especially considering the added difficulty of crossing my eyes to try and see the bow and the terrible frustration I felt when I realized that I could not keep up with my older sister.

Two years later I joined a piano class: alone. Right from our very earliest lessons we were guided into creating music of our own by coming up with variations on a piece we had just learned, improvising blues together, and composing. And there was no older sister learning twice as fast as me, and only voluntary crossing of my eyes. Our classes always began with five long minutes focused on theory and we were quickly (as I look back now, although it felt like years at the time) taught to read and write music and understand the basic rules of its creation. After seven years in this wonderful class, I left it for a traditional Royal Conservatory style teacher, but I took with me a love for creating music.

Every now and again I sit down at the piano and simply doodle. I play wherever my heart (and sometimes my theoretical brain) leads me while following the glorious colours of sound. It is something I am not usually able to do in front of other people but one day my former next-door neighbor, Cimarron, was over for a visit and I began playing and she began to dance to my playing. It was beautiful. I watched her as I played and her entire lack of any self-consciousness and her joy in her own movements lead me, through osmosis, to play with greater joy, freedom and confidence. We drew ideas and inspiration from each other and the result in our ears and eyes was magical and heart opening. Neither of us is particularly brilliant in either of these art forms: I had not practiced improvisation or composing in an eon, and she had given up dance lessons years before (along with me), but we loved what we created so completely that now almost every time we see each other we play and dance together and reenter that world of freedom and wonder.

This experience was the beginning of a change for me. It opened my eyes to a world beyond the critical audiences in my past performances and competitions where every wrong note or slightly misplaced texture was deeply frowned upon. Not to say that I dislike that world, but my new experience opened my eyes to something different. …

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