A long time ago,
Musicians would play tunes in
Small groups in some house.
If you were rich, a
String quartet or a duo
Might play tunes for you.
If you were poor, a
Fiddler, flute, drum and the like
Might play tunes with you.
Someone would sing a
Song of love, or of sadness,
(or both), or brave deeds.
On a fine spring night
Music and song would ring out.
Rich? Poor? Just happy.
Music is music,
There for everyone’s delight.
So let’s play and sing!
I was thinking about those days of old when music happened in the home.
That home might be a royal court, where nobility summoned the house musicians to play for events, or just because the noble felt like some music (ancient streaming). Maybe the noble played an instrument too. They might be good (because they had time on their hands to practice), or they might be bad—imagine having to listen to your boss play the flute badly as you smile broadly!
Or maybe a pick-up band would form in someone’s home (or maybe the local pub) and folks would take turns entertaining their friends with their newly-acquired skill or a new song that they heard (or wrote). Someone would call out for an old favorite, and everyone would join in.
Or in a later time, when many homes had pianos, families would gather and sing, or someone would play with the family there nearby, reading, playing, knitting. But music would fill the air.
That seems to be gone. I use the word seems for a reason.
While it’s true that these days it seems like everyone is on their phone or computer or dashing around catching up on things left undone, gatherings of local musicians are not completely gone. Gatherings of amateurs are not gone.
You might need to search a bit, but I believe you’ll find there are local halls, homes, even public venues, where musicians meet to play together. In the US, one might check a site like meetup.com for gatherings in your area (there’s a separate category for music). Or you might join a local choral group.
Or start a gathering. You probably know someone who plays a guitar or other instrument, someone who likes to sing. Think of Schubert playing for a group of friends at someone’s home. It could be your home. Or, hey, how about a party where everyone brings their old band instruments? They’re probably just lurking in some closet anyway.
Will it be professional grade? Maybe, maybe not–who cares? Will it be fun?–absolutely. Even the occasional squeaking reed or flubbed note is good for a laugh among good-natured friends.
(And at the end of the night, if someone decides they really don’t want to play their band clarinet anymore, why not urge them to donate it to a school?)
Hearing and learning other people’s music is learning about them. New music can mean new friends.
Later I will meet with some other adult piano students, and we will play for each other. I always hear music I have not heard before (and want to learn). And we talk, and trade stories, and laugh.
And I already miss my choirs, their season of singing over for now. We gather and sing and encourage each other at our practice sessions, and unite as one to bring beautiful music to our listeners.
Doesn’t that sound like more fun than some summer rerun on the television?
Image attribution: The Concert by Gerard van Honthorst [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AGerard_van_honthorst_-_the_concert_-_1623.jpg