Happy Thanksgiving!! On this Thanksgiving eve, I am listening to the sounds of my children playing video games upstairs. I am struck by the fact that I accidentally did a few things right in life. I hear the tenor sound of my adult son's voice mingled with the falsetto squeaks of my 3 year old son. I hear the now a tenor/then a baritone squeaks of my 13 year old son, interspersed with the alto strains of my only daughter. At this perfect moment, they are all blending in perfectly improvised harmony.
I was sitting on the piano a few minutes ago, trying to get the melody out of my head. It had started in my dream from the nap I was just taking. In this dream i was playing the violin publicly. I am trained in viola (in real life). What I mean by "trained" is that I carried it to school and back for 2 years and I hated every minute of it. I was not meant to play harmony. Once I discovered the attention I could get with my voice I put the viola away and I only played enough piano to accompany myself. I regret not learning to listen better. I would have understood how beautiful the supportive bass line could be. I might have enjoyed that important role better. I might have worked and played more.
But I digress. In my dream, I felt the pressure of the crowd as I contemplated tuning my violin. I did not want to keep them waiting, but I was aware as I felt their gaze, that someone else had handed me this instrument and I would have to trust that they had tuned it first. I could not be out of tune with the other instruments of the string quartet who were standing by. I stood, undecided, and tried to figure out if I was in tune. There was no frame of reference and I was keenly aware that even if I were accurate in my tuning, I would need to tune to the other performers while the audience waited. At some point it became clear that this was to be a solo act. I decided to tell the audience exactly what was on my mind.
I said, "Someone handed me this instrument. They have more confidence in my ability to play than I have. I will attempt to play for you; but I will not play if I can not make it beautiful. Don't worry, I will know pretty quickly if it is not going to happen."
I picked up the bow, it was strung thick with loose gray hair. I put it to the violin with NO idea what I was going to play. As I pulled the bow across the string it was not taught enough to make a clear sound. I knew this was not going to happen. I announced to the audience that instead, I would sit at the piano and play an original composition. The crowd erupted in applause and I breathed a sigh of relief. I was on familiar ground.
Tomorrow I will prepare a massive Thanksgiving dinner for just my family. I don't consider myself a good cook, but I can do Thanksgiving. I have been at this a while. We will play games, someone will make music. Maybe someone will join in. Nothing new or interesting is expected or required. I am thrilled by new challenges and adventures. I hope my body will let me have a 100 more years of them. However, tonight, I am thrilling to the perfect 4 part harmony I helped to create. This is sacred space. This is familyer ground.