The Joy of Sharing Music: Giving Music Away, a.k.a. Performing
by Laura Mason
Not long after one begins studying music, performance is brought up. Performing can be intimidating, but it also has the potential to be a very joyful and rewarding experience. Here are some reasons why…
The goal of playing a specific piece for a performance is an excellent motivator for consistent and productive practice. This is especially true as a person transitions to playing or singing more difficult repertoire. When we begin our musical journey pieces are shorter and can be “perfected” fairly easily. As one journeys into more difficult music, it takes longer and requires focus and resolution on trouble spots within the piece. Preparing for a performance encourages a student to stick with a piece past what feels “normal.” This benefit is compounded if the student has performed from the beginning. They know the joy of setting a goal and achieving it and the value of consistent practice; now they are realizing the rewards of persistent practice.
Music has been enjoyed in a communal setting for hundreds of years. Research has actually shown that participating in a musical experience with other individuals builds and strengthens social bonds. There is undoubtedly a shared energy between audience and performer. This is why we still have live concerts despite the fact that music is more available than ever with streaming services such as Spotify. Think of your favorite musical memories; my guess is one or more has to do with a moving experience you had as either an audience member or the performer.
“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” -Pablo Picasso.
No one would argue that it is important to give to others or deny the fact that doing so can bring great joy to both parties.
“Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.”-Victor Hugo
When we give our music away, a very personal thing to give away, we are giving both ourselves and the audience a meaningful gift.
I can still remember the seat I was sitting in when the Appassionata piano duo played Brahms’ Hungarian Dance No. 5. It was an addition to the program after an evening of beautiful and intense music, and the energy in the room was at a high as the audience clapped the encore into happening. I sat back down to enjoy a final work and heard the first lines of this piece from my childhood; tears rushed to my eyes. My dad used to play Hungarian Dance No. 5 often when I was growing up, and though I had listened to it many times since then, none had moved or has since moved me as much as that performance. I am very thankful that the pianists took the time to learn the piece. I am thankful that I got to experience it in a setting where the shared energy of the audience and performers amplified the experience. I am thankful that they chose to give that music away, and in doing so, gave me an experience that continues to bring me comfort and joy. I try to hold this memory close when I perform to remind myself of the awesome power music can have when you share it.
Laura Mason is a guest blogger and educator for our music school. She teaches piano, voice, and Kindermusik. Laura also organizes and directs our Studio Singers offerings and our Musical Theatre Summer Camp.