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April 2, 2010

Ode to Musicians

Over the past month I have witnessed random people creating music in the most ordinary moments. Last week, on my way to to the Maui airport (yea for vacations :)), an older Hawaain man quietly began singing "Tiny Bubbles" from the back of the bus. All of the chatter immediately ceased. As we sat there listening, no one turned around to say anything to him, but there seemed to be a quiet understanding that we took joy from his song.

And then there was the flute player in Pacific Palisades Park sitting on a bench in the rose garden practicing "Chariots of Fire."

And then there was the elder Asian woman dancing and singing to herself in a language not understood by me by the East River on a spring morning.

And then there was the musician playing Van Morrison "Crazy Day" in the subway tunnel during rush hour in the lower east side.

And then there is the recorder player Mickey who greets people emerging from the subway on their evening commute everyday.

The beauty of music is that it often finds us, sneaking into our awareness in the most unsuspecting moments. Providing us an opportunity to stop our thoughts and listen. Allowing us to witness strangers gifting their talents to other strangers. Letting us enjoy something that we did not have to create.

Music allows people to stand alone in a random part of the city and share a part of themselves with the passing world without seeming crazy or annoying. The public sharing of any other passion is looked upon with disdain. People who talk to themselves on the street are considered schizophrenic. People who share their faith are preachers. People who hold up signs are in-your-face protesters. People who make art on the street are graffiti-ers. People who hand out leaflets on their cause are annoying fundraisers.

But people who make music....are musicians. People will stop and listen to musicians. People will tap their feet to a stranger's beat. People will be moved to drop money in a hat when they pass by out of a pure appreciation of a sound. People will look up and smile in the acknowledgment that you too are listening. People will feel their memory or emotions awaken to a recognized song. Because of this, musicians have a rare freedom to uninvitedly reveal their talents and soul to the world and still be embraced.

I want to be a musician. I think a lot of us do. And though we may not have the lyrical or musical capabilities of producing pleasing auditory compositions, we have something within us that we yearn to share to the world. We want to share it although it will make us vulnerable. We want to voice our inner most passions, but fear such an act would deem us crazy. Or worst, no one would listen. We want to create something that people may, if only for a moment, pause and appreciate. We want the opportunity to show the world that we can create something beautiful.

Perhaps the myth is that only singers and songwriters and instrumentalists are musicians. Perhaps we walk through life resigned to listen to others' music, without realizing that we too can create it. Perhaps music is not merely notes or sounds, but the courage to vulnerably share an inner voice to strangers passing by. Perhaps the creation of music means quieting the yelling of the mind's opinions and allowing the voice of the heart to emerge. Perhaps the melody we create will find a listener. And then perhaps the true beauty of music lies not in what is created, but what is shared.

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