Yesterday I had the distinct pleasure of helping friends select wedding music. When Pachelbel's Canon popped up on my playlist, the bride instantly broke into tears of happiness and love. For the couple, it was a joyous moment.
For me, it was an insightful look at the living, embraceable power of music.
Often we as music performers, educators, scholars, and students, are so inundated with performing, teaching, writing, and advocating, that we forget to listen.
When is the last time a piece of music (listening) brought you to tears? Anger? Uncontrolled exhilaration? Wasn't it FANTASTIC?
The affect of music varies by genre, culture, composer, and performer, but there is no affect (or effect!) without audience. Reading and analyzing the dissonance of the late Beethoven String Quartets and hearing them live in the acoustic of a resonant hall are two separate types of experiences. One feeds into the experience of the other. And the other, the listening, will leave you breathless.
Somewhere in the last decade of bankruptcies, program cuts, funding slashes, we as musicians forgot the number one reason why WE listen to live music: to be embraced by it.
This weekend, go to one concert...any concert.
Allow yourself to listen to the music as my friend did: honestly.