A musical moment I’ll never forget:
A few days ago, I was lying on the hotel bed on the exquisite island of Formentera, Spain (in the Mediterranean close to the island of Ibiza where my husband grew up), feeling nearly comatose after a long afternoon nap induced by a bit too much beach sun in the morning.
My husband had gone downstairs on an errand and I felt completely unable to move, let alone get up. Of course, I didn’t have any pressing reason to get up since I was on vacation, but somehow it didn’t seem right to stay lying in a dark room for hours with so much gorgeous Nature waiting to be experienced outside.
Suddenly, the strums of a guitar arose from a background of non-descript animated Spanish voices in the pedestrian square below my window, soon followed by the strains of a happy harmonica. Coordinated rhythm and clapping ensued, and I realized that most of the voices were those of playing children. My no-longer-lethargic body rose with curiosity to look out the window, as if miraculously pulled by the Piped Piper and energized by the music.
The scene I beheld across the patio as I leaned over the rail of my balcony window filled my soul with unexpected delight. Mesmerized, I watched a middle-aged man in sunglasses sitting on a park bench with his guitar giving an impromptu combination of jam-session and music lesson to a dozen or so children surrounding him, sitting close to him on the bench and in a semi-circle on the ground in front of him. After a few moments, a sweet little girl in a pink shirt looked up and saw me watching overhead, smiled, and gave me a knowing gesture as she pointed to the man next to her as if to say, “Isn’t this man simply wonderful? You’ll see!”
The street scene continued for a long time, jumping from bits of flamenco music (“Quien va a bailar?” he asked – Who’s going to dance?”… as several girls tried to pull shy Maria to her feet, who sadly refused), to a lesson on naming the strings and showing the children where the fingers go (one boy took a second guitar behind the bench and tried it out for himself with full concentration), to passing around the harmonica… and all the while the children sat watching him, chattering, singing, or slowly riding their scooters – but never more than a few feet away from the bench so they wouldn’t miss a thing.
A few adults stood watching and many walked on towards the cafe and small harbor at the end of the street; everyone and everything was at peace in the golden evening glow of sea sun, listening to happy children, bits of village music, and engaging wisdom shared by the Pied Piper-Guitarist through his everyday music.
As I watched, fully awake now and filled with joy, I thought to myself, “What lucky children! These children will forever associate happiness, community, and simple carefreeness with music – just as they should. What a perfect moment.”
It seems to me that we professional musicians could learn a thing or two from the Pied Piper-Guitarist… What do you think? How did you fall in love with music? Did you have an inspiring teacher, or inspiring moments with music as a child? I’d love to hear your comments.
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