Sunday, 19 May 2013

Music in daily life - have you got it?

Today I was the MC for a community concert held at the Glen Eira Town Hall in Caulfield (a suburb of Melbourne).  On the program was a community orchestra, a community choir, a classical guitarist and me, singing and accompanying myself on piano.

Sonia Letourneau produced the concert and conduct the Glen Eira strings community orchestra.  Her firm belief in life is that music is essential for well-being and for life in general.  Sonia is a professional violinist (or fiddle player as she says) and her passion for music and creating opportunities for music to be played and heard is inspiring.

When I asked the audience who had ever played an instrument, most people put their hands up.  When I asked who still plays most put their hands down.  It seems it's a common story.

I started to play piano very young -  around the age of five I discovered what happened when I pressed the keys.  Sound came out! I learnt to read music as I was learning to read language and it's a skill I have never lost.  I never had to be coerced to practise.  I loved nothing more than sitting at the piano and playing for hours.  (Unless it was scales, which I hated.)

In the years when I didn't have regular access to a piano, I stayed connected to music through my singing and now that I have a piano again, I play daily when I am at home.  It is such a wonderful way to shake off the day and use my brain in a different way, while beautiful music fills my home.  Other times I will feel the satisfaction of  mastering a particularly tricky passage.  It's satisfying to hear the fruits of ones labour.

I wonder why people give up.  Maybe they're not playing the right instrument for them.  Maybe they hate their teacher.  Maybe their teacher didn't teach them to love music, but only to "get it right".  Maybe they were too busy and prioritised other things in their lives. When I speak to people personally about their musical stories, every person who used to play and has since given it up expresses regret at the fact they didn't continue.  I always ask what's stopping them picking up their instrument again or joining a choir.  The answer is usually incomplete.

Are you one of the people out there who used to play?  Why not reacquaint yourself with music?  Don't expect it to be perfect the first time you play - it won't be.  It might take some practise to get back in the swing of things, but you'll enjoy the process I'm sure.

Singing and playing the piano on stage in public is something I haven't done for about twenty years.  I sing regularly in front of other people, but playing for others hasn't happened for a while.  It was exhilirating!

Back stage while the orchestra plays on stage.
© divacultura 2013

I received an email from a member of today's audience when I arrived home.  She sounded so excited about the music and the experience of really listening and thinking about the images evoked by the music.  Best of all, she shared that she is inspired to sing!

Scientists have shown that people who play music are smarter than people who don't.  Our IQs are actually higher.  So what are you waiting for?  What role does music play in your life?  How can you incorporate music into your daily life?


  1. I'm enjoying learning vioin as the child learns. The various music teachers always ask if I play an instrument. I have to say no. Singing isn't an instrument really. Is it? But I can read music in three different clefs and know bunches of theory thanks to our great music teacher in high school. So while I don't play, I can be very useful in helping the child learn.

    My most recent singing group has gone quiet. I really should find a local group and get back into musicals. I used to really love those.

  2. What a great idea to have a go along with your child. I think the voice is definitely an instrument. With all those clefs available to you, why not take up the viola or the French horn? My crazy neighbour has recently added the trumpet and the clarinet to his regular outings on the piano. The trumpet is hilarious in the beginning - it sounds like someone blowing raspberries initially - but over the last few weeks he can now knock out a decent scale. I encourage you to find a way - there's bound to be a group doing something nearby. Don't forget to come back and tell us all about it.
    Thanks for reading and sharing.