Strings are for winners!

When I was in middle school and high school, I was part of the orchestra. I played the cello – you know the big instrument with the deep sound?

My middle school teacher, Mrs. R. was pretty easy going and one of the strong quiet types that kept her emotions to herself. I'm sure that every year for 3 years my class drove her crazy! And yet… she still tried to reach out to us our 8th grade year by letting us play The Pink Panther for our final concert. It was the best!

By the time we got to high school though, our class size grew and we were forced into a class of 30+ students of many different ages (4 years worth of differences) all under the control of one man … in the art classroom. (Yes. My high school refused to acknowledge that the arts were worthy of teaching.) Mr. H's goal, a very good one I might add, was to unite this very large group of students. He said when we played our instruments we should sound like one carefully crafted unit – working more like a clock's gears than, say, 30+ students doing their own thing.

Mr. H had a unique way of teaching. I can't remember all of the odd methods he used but I do remember one in particular – he had us share instruments with our stand partner and while one person was working the bow, the other person had to do the string fingering for a song. The idea was that we would learn how to work together…

One of the key lessons for working together as a team was the importance of silence. There is a saying that sometimes "silence speaks louder than words" and I truly believe that. In music, if everyone in the group is playing a song together (and they sound good!), but during one pause someone keeps playing, what happens? First off, someone is terribly embarrassed! (I would know.) Secondly, the song has been completely altered. There is no recovery. That silence was crafted and positioned just so for a reason.. Maybe the audience is supposed to be shocked by the sudden silence … or maybe it is meant to give everyone a chance to breathe …

Then, at the end of every song, Mr. H. would have us hold our position (not move our bow or change our fingering from the last note) until 5-10 seconds had passed and the audience had had time to realize the song was over. That silence gave our audience time to ponder our music and it gave us the opportunity to gain confidence in what we had accomplished.

Today when I woke up this morning I wasn't sure how or if I would blog about or recognize the events from 9/11. Obviously, as a blogger it's easy to get caught up in a rut. I don't want to spend every 9/11 anniversary telling you where I was and what I was doing … or that we are survivors. I've done that. You know. But today's blog post, I hope will remind you that even in silence we are unified. And that silence is important. For reflection, for remembering, and for the future.

May peace be with you today.

In memory

1 comment:

  1. My heart goes out to those who lost loved ones on that terrible day.

    When it comes to sensitive topics such as this, I think it's a mistake to interpret anyone's silence as apathy.


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