Music is a Language, Really!!
We were all set and ready to play; a dinner conversation using our instruments –harp, flute, violin and cello. Oh, how we wanted to experience the freedom of improvisation like our violinist; she was our role model. On gigs, our inspired quartet resonated as one voice whether we played classical music, contemporary songs or old standards. We had a magical connection and we knew it; as long as 3 out of 4 of us had music. We wanted more; we wanted to be free of the sheet music and we were ready to do something about it.
Sitting in a circle in my living room, our imagined dinner party began. Using only instruments to speak, the violin introduced herself followed by the flute and cello. They conversed for a while as I lingered in the corner. Unexpected waves of anxiety filled my mind as the others turned their welcoming gazes towards me. Frozen with fear, this accomplished classical musician could only play 2 notes. And that’s how my musical journey of self-expression began.
Several months later, while playing for the grand opening of a hospital emergency room, a single conversation turned my perception about music on its head. During a short break, I was talking with the architect of the facility about his deep appreciation for music and his profound experiences while singing in choirs. I shared some of my concerns about improvising and he simply stated, “Music is a language.”
Of course, I had heard this statement many times; but this time I really
heard it. I was beginning a new journey of learning this language of music. Even though I’d been playing it for over 30 years, there was a desire, a deep yearning to learn how to communicate and express more through it.
Reflecting on how we learn language as infants offered profound insight:
- we cry, coo, babble and explore different sounds with our mouths
- we say our first word, then another word
- we begin putting words together in short incomplete sentences and others understand us
- we structure full sentences and communicate easily
- and years later we learn the ‘theory’ of our language in English class
My heart opened, as when you look into a baby’s eyes, as I realized I was a newborn on this journey of self-expression. Judgment dissolved, inner compassion awakened, and eventually those 2 initial notes expanded into babbles and doodles. “Doodles” became the descriptive word for whatever music came through me; as an artist doodles with colors, or a student doodles in their notebook margin, I doodled with sound. Honestly, it was also my excuse for not having to know the theory behind whatever I was playing. Admittedly, much of my fear about improvising came from the fear of “not knowing enough theory to write my own music” which was the story in my head that kept me from trying. As long as I was doodling and having fun exploring this newly discovered language, judgment was suspended. Now, years later, I continue to doodle as full expressions of feelings, images and ideas flow through my music.
Where are you on the journey of learning the language of music?
Are you beginning a new instrument and playing around with the different sounds it can make?
Are you studying with a teacher who’s guiding you along a particular path, style, or genre of playing?
Are you stepping out of your comfort zone to explore new ways to communicate?
Are you proficient and comfortable in expressing your feelings and thoughts through music?
Are you one who loves the theory and structure of the language of music?
For as many musicians there are in the world, there are that many ways to learn, express, create and communicate through the language of music. Wherever you are on your journey, play on!
-Amy Camie - MU Columnist
*Amy Camie is a spiritual harpist, passionate speaker, gifted recording artist, intuitive composer, inspirational writer and Co-Initiator of The ORIGIN Methodology of Self-Discovery. Her strong classical background allows the music from her soul to flow freely through her fingertips creating highways of sound that awaken memories of wholeness, harmony, compassion, and love.
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