Saturday, May 13, 2006


When I was a sophomore in college, I took Theory I. I spent the first semester seriously irritated with the professor. Then he assigned the final project, and everything changed. Compose a hymn. There were rules, of course, but the real requirement was: sit down at the piano and create. Suddenly all the irritating rules made sense, and I understood why my professor cared so much that we learned them. They were the foundation for creating beautiful things - music bigger than we were - we needed those rules in order to express our souls.

Dr. B. and I are fast friends now. Somewhere in the midst of that final project we were able to see each other more clearly - not just as irritating professor and challenging student, but challenging professor and passionate student. And I will never forget him, because he was the one who pushed me hard enough to show me that I, too, could create music.

I spent hours locked in tiny practice rooms, lost to the world, composing. Some of it was terrible, but occasionally I'd find a motif, a melody, something that had real potential. When that happened, I'd emerge from my cave, hungry and tired, but too excited to notice. Creating music transcended normal life.

When I graduated, married, and took a job teaching, my opportunities to compose evaporated. I had no piano at home, and no time at school. I missed it periodically, but didn't worry too much about it. Someday, I said, I'd go back to school and study composition more thoroughly.

No, I'm not going back to school now. That is still in the future (perhaps). But I am composing again. Gabe and I decided that it was a good way for me to keep a toe in the music world during this mommy-ing time of life. So now every Saturday Gabe takes Jonathan away for a run or on errands or something, and I sit down at the piano and lose myself in music. I'm not very good at it. I'm woefully out of practice - last week I frustrated myself no end trying to figure out the timing of a passage that was crystal clear in my head, but wouldn't come out on paper. And while melodies still come fairly easily to me, I've forgotten far too much of how to flesh them out with harmony (much less remember all of Dr. B's voice leading rules!) But it will come. The love is still there, and the technique will come back with practice.

Today I realized that Gabe was singing my melody while doing chores around the house. That was so encouraging, because it means that the melody I'm working so hard to create does have something in that draws people in. I know that I will make lots of marginal or even bad music. But I have high hopes that with enough work, someday I will create something truly lovely; something that reflects the beauty of the Creator himself.

Jesu juva.


Dy said...

Oh, Emily - that's delightful! (And it shows that they DO listen, even when we don't realize it!) *wink*

Enjoy your compositions.

Amber said...

Oh, how wonderful! I am in awe that you can compose at the piano - or even attempt to do such a thing. I'm glad that you two have hit upon this idea, I think it sounds great. I'm sure as you continue to do this it will all start coming back... did you save any of your notes and materials from those classes in college? Maybe that's what you'll soon be reviewing on Friday nights! *grin*

JMS said...

What a remarkable husband you have!! And what a precious gift he's allowing you to enjoy every week. May you find yourself enraptured and inspired so you can communicate that to others! ; )