28 August 2010

Why I'm a Musician

Kirribilli Kim recently tagged me in a meme. I don’t really know what a meme is, but apparently as a consequence of being tagged, I’m now obliged to post about ten things that make me happy, or consider running for my life.

As is usually the way with me, and in the finest tradition of Australian federal elections, when presented with two possibilities I choose neither of them. There will be no Ten Things post, and neither will I be running anywhere. As daunting as slightly built women on the other side of the world are, I reckon I can take you Kim.

Meanwhile… how awesome is music?

If I were composing a list of ten things that make me happy… which I’m not… then music would probably be at least three of them. Let me give you two very different examples of why music is the coolest thing ever.

Last Tuesday night I went to watch David Helfgott in concert. If you don’t know who that is, then that’s alright, but you should consider looking him up, watching the  movie “Shine” starring Geoffrey Rush and generally getting some culture you blockheaded philistine.

Anyway, I went to hear him play the grand piano for two hours on Tuesday night. After taking Samantha along to worship every week to just pump out whatever Hillsong or Planet Shaker variation is in vogue this week, it was refreshing to be reminded how powerful the piano is when you can play it properly. I know a few things about the piano these days, but David’s playing just took my breath away, and took my mind off to some other universe, the way music is supposed to.

At the other end of the technical ability scale, this morning I went with a group of church friends to run a service in Berrimah Prison. I went in with the old Yamaha PSR 225 (which I’ve affectionately named ‘Mary’) under my arm to play some music for the inmates. We let them choose their favourite songs out of the plastic folder of choruses stored in the prison library, and took pot luck on whether I’d be able to play them or not.

Somehow, standing in the prison library, leading a group of inmates in a soft but sincere rendition of “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” I once again found myself moved at a profound level; this time not by the quality of the performance (it was just me on an old Yamaha) but by the inherent power of a group of people coming to sing together, even in a place as miserable as a maximum security prison. We lifted out voices to God, connecting on a level that went way beyond the heavy iron gates and barbed wire fences. It was liberating for me, and I’m not the one locked up, although there’s a case to be made that I should be.

Sometimes I worry that church music has become all about making a huge and impressive sound, rather than a sincere and resonant one. If this week has taught me one thing, it’s this; it’s one thing to sound great. It’s quite another to make a great sound.

I should totally become a pop star.

Garry with 2 Rs
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