Music is not something you do, it's a place you go. No one is immune to the human experience. All of us will have challenges and pain and music is a prescription for a healthy escape from the gravity of life. Music creates a space that allows for us to recharge, regroup and reflect in a manner that builds us up instead of depleting us. Music heals.
I work with a group of Suzuki Violin teachers in my city (Eugene, Oregon) to create events for our students. Sunday, June 12, 2016 was our first event of the summer: a review party for our more advanced students with an ice cream bar afterwards. To say we were excited to host this party for our students was an understatement but when I woke up that morning to the indescribable horror of yet another mass shooting in our country the last thing I wanted to do was put on my happy face and assume my public role as a teacher in my community. I wanted to lay in bed, follow the unfolding news story and grieve the loss of innocent life while venting the anger that comes from the continuity of these shootings and injustices.
I am not qualified to speak on the politics and social issues that surround the circumstances of the Orlando shooting but I can share my personal experience with how music played a vital role in my life that day and I hope also for the students involved.
When the time came to meet for our Suzuki Violin review party, I left half heartedly with the shooting on the front of my mind. As soon as I arrived at our location I was able to mentally “change channels” and enter into the world of music.
I played along that day more than someone with an overuse injury like me would normally plan to do. In that hour of playing the violin, playing J.S. Bach, playing with colleagues & playing with students something transformative happened. Inside the music I was able to forget about the tragic events and elevate above the pain, anger and confusion that is part of our human experience and was provoked by the senseless shooting in Orlando that morning. It was not appropriate to bring up the tragic event with the students but inevitably some of them were aware of this recent unprecedented news story. I am confident that the music - in the form of playing the violin, playing masterworks by great composers, playing in unison with friends and playing with trusted teachers also provided a safe space for these young musicians to unconsciously process the events and was a reprieve from the gravity of this reality that is becoming all too regular in our country. Music fills many voids in our life and can provide a safe space for unconscious introspection in times like this.
“Front lines, Broken Schools, Broken Churches, Broken Hospitals.
WE NEVER SAID NO.
Everywhere people needed a sense that they were still human beings we played.”
Dr. Dijana Ihas
The above quote is from a presentation I hosted last February by Dr. Dijana Ihas titled Art and Humanity in the Midst of War: The Story of the Sarajevo String Quartet. Dijana shared a first hand account of her experience performing 206 concerts as a violist with the Sarajevo String Quartet during the infamous siege of Sarajevo from April 5, 1992 – February 29, 1996.
Her story is miraculous, hauntingly recent and not well known. Sharing this story feels like one of the most important things I have ever done with my life. Since the Music for Young Violinists group has grown so much since I posted a year ago I felt it would be valuable to share this information again. Videos of the presentation are posted on youtube (click on the titles to be re-directed) in 5 parts as follows:
PART 1/5 - "What Does it Mean to be Besieged?"
PART 2/5 - “When everything is taken away from you, humans are so intelligent they find a way to survive.”
PART 3/5 - A Glimpse Into One of the Performances
PART 4/5 - Years later, a need to understand: “Why Did I Do That?”
PART 5/5 - Why Arts? Why Music? Why Strings?
Hi! It's me, Heather. I absolutely love working on the Music for Young Violinists project and all the many facets: blogging, website, music, teaching materials, freebies, videos, newsletter and giveaway contests. The best part is connecting with you so feel free to drop me a line. You can learn more about me on the "ABOUT" page. Thanks!