Last weekend I played with a high school honors symphony orchestra I auditioned for and one of the pieces we were doing was the finale from Shostakovich 5th symphony. Anyway, in one of the rehearsals we were working diligently on one of the more lyrical sections. Our conductor told us the whole story of Shostakovich and Stalin, and he said “thank god these composers had miserable lives, or else they wouldn’t have written the music we have today” he then told us about an orchestra he had worked with from another country on this piece. He said that they played it with an emotional level of a 9 whereas we were playing at a 2.7; those kids had such a severe level of poverty, and the only thing that brought them up was the love of music. He said that they played as if music had saved their lives, and that was how they emphasized with the composers so well. He then basically told us that we live such easy lives in America compared to them and even though music hasn’t LITERALLY saved our lives, we should try to emphasize with them. I thought then, how will I ever be able to play like them if I haven’t had such a terrible and traumatic life? How can I possibly pour my devastating and traumatized emotions into music that aren’t there?? My life is so easy…how will I ever have those emotions to pour into the music? I’ve been thinking about this for a few days and I now realize music HAS saved my life; perhaps not in the literal sense. But thinking about it, where would I be without music? Where would YOU be without music? I’ve been playing violin since i was 5 but only got really dedicated in the 6th grade. What would I be doing if I hadn’t continued with music? And honestly, I can’t come up with an answer. I would be a completely different person. Us musicians would ALL be different people than we are now if we didn’t have music in our lives. Who would we be if music had never touched our lives? Perhaps I’d be off parting every night getting drunk. Perhaps I’d want a career I’d never even consider now. So now, thinking over my conductor’s words, I know that music HAS saved my life. It has saved all of our lives. And we can play that way.
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