Wednesday, October 28, 2009

One more reason I teach and make music...

...lastly and most importantly, I believe, music and music education help develop a child’s sense of being, her consciousness, her ‘self.’ Madeleine L’Engle, who is best known as the award-winning author of A Wrinkle in Time, believes that one of the greatest responsibilities of educators is “to give the child a self.” Instead, educators, parents, coaches, administrators, and counselors often struggle to give them something drastically different (and I would argue, inferior), a ‘self-image.’ Is our culture’s preoccupation with giving children a ‘self-image’ a good idea?
By giving a child a self instead, we are not giving them “something static, tied up in a pretty parcel and handed to the child, finished and complete. A self is always becoming. Being does mean becoming.” (Madeleine L’Engle, A Circle of Quiet)
This concept of ‘becoming,’ of having a self, of consciousness is a defining human capability. Overcoming the selfish self, the self-image, means that we are becoming more real, more human, more loving. We become more conscious and less self-conscious. Consciousness is authentic sensitivity, awareness of being. Self-consciousness is superficial, affected, and selfish. L’Engle explores this truth and its connection to creativity in A Circle of Quiet (one of my favorites of her non-fiction), “So, when we wholly concentrate, like a child in play, or an artist at work, then we share in the act of creating. We not only escape time, we also escape our self-conscious selves.”

Some reasons I teach and make music.

...the inherent and unique ability of music to bring order to consciousness for those who engage in ‘musicing.’ Just as writing helps bring clarity and order to my also helps clarify my thoughts and feelings which cannot be expressed with words. provides opportunities to experience “flow” (motivation which occurs when exciting challenges are perfectly balanced to match and extend ability) which spurs self-growth and self-knowledge.
...the distinctive power of music to “refine and extend” our ability to feel. By intensifying our felt experiences, music allows us to deepen our connections with the world around us, to broaden our capacity to love, and ultimately to strengthen and enrich our humanity.

I think these ideas capture a small (and somewhat cloudy) glimpse of the true masterpiece (the 'big picture') of the way that we were created to our Creator so generously intended.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Heard you that shriek? It rose
So wildly on the air,
It seem'd as if a burden'd heart
Was breaking in despair.
Saw you those hands so sadly clasped --
The bowed and feeble head --
The shuddering of that fragile form --
That look of grief and dread?
Saw you the sad, imploring eye?
Its every glance was pain,
As if a storm of agony
Were sweeping through the brain.
She is a mother pale with fear,
Her boy clings to her side,
And in her kyrtle vainly tries
His trembling form to hide.
He is not hers, although she bore
For him a mother's pains;
He is not hers, although her blood
is coursing through his veins!
He is not hers, for cruel hands
May rudely tear apart
The only wreath of household love
That binds her breaking heart.
His love has been a joyous light
That o'er her pathway smiled,
A fountain gushing ever new,
Amid life's desert wild.
His lightest word has been a tone
Of music round her heart,
Their lives a streamlet blent in one --
Oh, Father! must they part?
They tear him from her circling arms,
Her last and fond embrace: --
Oh! never more may her sad eyes
Gaze on his mournful face.
No marvel, then, these bitter shrieks
Disturb the listening air;
She is a mother, and her heart
Is breaking in despair.

"The Slave Mother," by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper.

This week I transcribed (into musical notation) a recording of this poem. It brought me to tears several times. I could say much more...but I've just been writing too many papers instead.

Friday, October 09, 2009

the end of summer seems forever ago...

My fingers are freezing right now, actually. But I'm still cherishing the beginning of fall. Cherishing, slow-cooking...and baking (too much). Since the cold and rain began, we've already enjoyed pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, apple crisp, chocolate chip cookies, rustic peach pie, squash bisque, pork roast... I love all the warm smells (and flavors) in our kitchen.