Interval: "A period of time between events
- In music : "The difference in pitch between two notes"
I am taking some time today. Time for quiet. Time to breathe. I am on a train, returning from a day of teaching in Salem. It was good to get away, even for a short trip. I started out listening to talk radio. But the manic, intense voices were making me feel anxious. So I switched to the classical radio station. I was rewarded with the sublime sounds of Beethoven' s Fourth Symphony. My breathing slowed. I felt the music infiltrate my being like liquid. I sighed and felt thankful for bliss.
As I listened to the orchestra play a work of genius, I consciously willed myself to not think in words. Just to be present with each note. It was profound. I looked out the window at a deep blue sky. My gaze lingered on a puffy while cloud, that seemed to be gliding along on in tandem with the train. Then a flock of birds whisked by right at the moment of a spectacular crescendo.
When the symphony was over, I pondered the experience. I mentioned before that the angry political debates have me feeling distraught. But instrumental music soothes my soul. Well, much of it does. I am partial to Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert, Bach and Haydn.
The notes come together to form a whole. A harmonious entity. Nothing like my life right now. The violence, the politics and my own anxieties bounce around my being like battling fragments.
When I teach my piano student's to read music, I am teaching them another language- note names, and musical symbols. In addition to note names, I teach them to recognize intervals: the distance between the notes. This helps them see the phrase, which is essentially a musical sentence. It takes them out of just seeing each individual note, but the relationship between the notes.
Right now, in my fragmented state, words are pulling me in many different directions. Sometimes I feel they have no meaning.
That's why I am so thankful that during these times of doubt and uncertainty, I can fall back on my second language: the universal language of music.
This week I have been playing teacher student duets. I have also been blues jamming with my students. And it occurred to me, that we are speaking a peaceful language. Like the musicians in the orchestra, playing the ethereal notes of a man from a far distant past.
We are in harmony.