Friday Flick: Music with Shining Eyes

If you’ve never loved classical music before, give Ben Zander twenty-one minutes to change your heart. If you’ve loved it already, share this with someone who could use a little healing. Ben conducts the Boston Philharmonic and speaks about his transformative experience with Landmark Education–a beautiful combination. This is Benjamin Zander’s TED talk.

Benjamin Zander at TED: Music with Shining Eyes
Benjamin Zander at TED: Music with Shining Eyes

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Text © Gwyn Nichols 2011

Image YouTube screenshot

Scheduling Improv

Listening to Krista Tippetts’ interview with musician Bobby McFerrin, it first surprised me that he ever considered joining a monastic order, and that the main attraction was the silence! He also loved the scheduled cycles of each day, the listening for God. Then it made sense.

He describes himself as a “conveyer of song. I think of myself as a catcher of songs . . . . to grab it, and pull it down, and have it come out of my mouth.” He distinguishes this process from an attitude of performing, which he recommends avoiding, even if you’re “catching song” from a stage.

He’s known for his improvisational freedom, but did you know he practices it? He recommends setting a timer for ten minutes. Then open your mouth and sing, and don’t stop, even when your body screams to stop.

That works for writing, too. Set a timer for a little longer than usual, and keep going even when everything in you screams to stop. You can work up to longer sessions and greater improvisational freedom.

(I watched the unedited version, and I plan to listen to the edited version as well–not to miss the things that will be trimmed for radio length, but for the music they’ll add. There’s another great way to look at revision!)

Bobby McFerrin Catching Song

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Text © Gwyn Nichols 2011. All Rights Reserved.

“There Will Be Rest”

Arizona State University's Schola Cantorum singing "There Will Be Rest" by Ticheli
"There Will Be Rest," Frank Ticheli's setting of the poem by Sara Teasdale

Something extra today! Here’s a  recording from the concert I mentioned March 7.

Yes, it’s a recording, not the live music experience I advocated in that previous post, but it’s still sweet!

Related Post:

The Poetry of Music

The Poetry of Music

I’m just home from a university choir concert, aptly named “Waxing Poetic.” Several well-trained choirs from Arizona State University prepared sacred and humorous works, performed in a sacred space, and sent healing sound waves through my soul like a medicinal hot spring. Two of the pieces made me cry:

  • “Song for Athene” by John Tavener, combining text from the Eastern Orthodox funeral service and Shakespeare’s Hamlet
  • “There Will Be Rest” by poet Sara Teasdale, set by composer Frank Ticheli

We’re so spoiled, listening to recordings of music whenever and wherever we want–and naturally, we need those, too–but we can forget how long it’s been since we were nourished by live acoustic music.

If we want to write musically, there better be some music in our souls.