Posts Tagged ‘Music’

Natalia has been with me for over forty-five years; Jess, over fifty.

Natalia and Jess have been my constant companions. They have accompanied me on journeys around the country and to foreign lands, accruing enough miles to circumnavigate the globe, twice. They’ve been there for every important event of my adult life. When I have needed them, in every instance, they have performed to the best of their ability.

I love them both dearly, and I want nothing for them but the best and fullest that life can offer.

Which is why it’s time for them to go.


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Hugo RinaldiThis week one of my high school teachers passed away. Reminiscing about our relationship got me thinking about the nature of teaching. It’s a very nebulous and squirmy thing, teaching is.

Hard to pin down. Hard to define.

Hugo Rinaldi taught music at San Rafael High School, leading the orchestra. Where most students only have a particular teacher for a single class, for a semester or perhaps a school year, I was Hugo’s student for my whole four-year run at SRHS. He conducted the school orchestra, the youth orchestra, and the chamber orchestra, all of which I was a member. He encouraged me to switch from violin to viola. He gave me the opportunity to conduct orchestras, bands, operas, and musicals.

Being a music teacher, Hugo didn’t have “classes” in the usual sense. There were no syllabi, we had no tests. We had rehearsals. Our homework was to practice our parts. Our finals were the concerts we gave for our proud (but often wincing) parents. He didn’t instruct us on how to play our instruments; that was the realm of our private music teachers. Hugo taught us how to play in an orchestra.

Big whoop, right? Like I’ll use that in my daily life.

Here’s the thing: I do. (more…)

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NataliaWhile I’m taking a hiatus from writing (and if you didn’t realize I’m on hiatus, you haven’t been paying attention), I’ve been reconnecting with the musical avocation I put down when I picked up the author’s pen.

David T Stone and company did an excellent job repairing my instruments, including fixing the divots left in my viola when a mic boom fell on us during a performance. Natalia (my viola) looks wonderful, and my violin is once again in playing condition.

I, however, am not. (more…)

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Chairman MeowThe week started badly, and ended with a…  What? It’s only Thursday?

Well, Hell.

So, it’s been a trying week, so far. I’ve had injury (wrenched back), illness (rhinovirus), family issues (no comment), excitement (took our neighbor to urgent care after an accidental toddler-induced head-butt), day-job frustrations (left hand…have you even met the right hand?), and finally, last night, disbelief (I pressed the button to close the garage door and watched as the motor bucked, juddered, and then, with a thunking crunch, deposited bits of plastic, pieces of metal, and one long, greasy chain onto the top of my car).

And it’s only Thursday.

So, what’s a cowboy to do? Or, more apropos, what’s a crabby old fart with barely a scintilla of patience to do?

As I did before this wretched week started, I shall turn to music. (more…)

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Misty MorningThere is one piece of music that is so imbued with power, so pregnant with history, so…epic…within the landscape of my mind, that it never fails to raise the hackles on my neck and make my vision swim with tears of memory.

I hope you have one of these because for me, when it begins, when I hear it after an age-long absence, I am instantly transported. I am young. I am vital. I am uplifted by the notes. I feel the chill of the dawn air. I hear the notes echo across the decades.

This video was taken this past July 4th, at Cazadero Music Camp, in the California redwoods. It is the traditional 4th of July reveille. played to rouse the campers from their sleep. But I remember when the tradition began. (more…)

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A Sixty-Fourth NoteTurn it up.

Make it louder. Not through earbuds. Not through headphones. Release it. Give it room to breathe. Let it surround me. I need to feel it in my chest. I want it to rattle my bones.

Turn it up.

Make the air ring with it. Blast it through horns of brass. Pound it out on skins of leather. Put bow to strings and make them cry and shout and sing. Make it loud, loud enough to reach me, loud enough to touch my body, to echo in my heart. The rhythm, the pulse, they are mine, my rhythm, my pulse. The rhythm of the music is the beating of my heart.

Turn it up.

Can you feel it? The music that thrums in your breast is the pounding of my blood. Feel it. When you feel that beat, you feel my heart within you. The strength of the music is the strength of my passion. Let it wash over you, scour you raw with its energy. Right now, at this very moment, that music is me. It is my anger, my love, my sadness; it is my whimsy, rage, serenity, bliss, reverie; my frustration and joy; my hunger and my peace. That music, that emotion, is me.

How am I feeling?

Turn it up.

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As a music major, I never really listened to music for the lyrics; I could rarely understand the singers anyway. (That’s why, during the final seasons of BSG, I missed the fun when they started quoting “All Along the Watchtower,” but that’s beside the point, really.)

Naturally, therefore, music has been incredibly important to my mind. It’s always been there, providing a soundtrack to my life, driving me onward or soothing my savage breast, lifting my spirits or challenging my assumptions with new and unusual combinations of sounds and tonalities.

When I switched from being a working musician to a struggling writer, music continued to play a big part. A very important part, as it turns out.


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