And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.
When you have one of those musical-type kids, or one of those artsy-type kids, or one of those writery-type kids, it’s always a challenge to find them ways to express their passions and interests. And when you have one of those kids who is all of those things, you’re often dashing between concerts and art shows, or standing outside the bedroom door, admiring a practice session, or leaning over a shoulder, watching an art piece come together, or listening to a story or a poem.
And when that child goes to college, it doesn’t change. You want them to reach out and excel in their major, but you also want those passions to continue, even if they go into a field where music, art, or writing isn’t at the forefront.
Or if they choose a field where one passion is chosen over the others.
When Olivia went to college, she chose to combine her interests in art and psychology and major in art therapy. At the college, along with art therapy classes, she takes many art classes. She joined the school’s literary magazine and quickly became the author of many articles and essays, even winning awards.
But her music…well, her music.
I wrote back on 9/23/21 about how Olivia came to join the Wisconsin Intergenerational Orchestra. You can see this blog again if you look to the right side and click on the month of September in 2021. When she chose her college, Mount Mary University, she was told that there was a music department. Silly us, we didn’t look deeply into what that meant. We figured band, chorus, and orchestra. But no, it meant beginning guitar, beginning piano, and chorus.
Olivia brought her violin to school anyway. She continued her rigorous practice sessions and her lessons with a private teacher. But playing in an orchestra fell to the side.
For those who don’t play music, it may be hard to understand the connection between music and the mind. When you play music, or sing it, you become a part of the instrument. The music does more than come out of you, it becomes you. You often see musicians swaying as they play, their bodies giving in to the rhythm. Singers often close their eyes, sinking fully into their voices and the words and the sounds.
It’s a magical thing. I played trumpet in high school, though I wasn’t very good at it. And I didn’t often connect the way others did. I actually wanted to play flute; my parents said no, and led me to the trumpet instead. I’m not sure why, but the trumpet and I never fully joined, beyond my mouth in the mouthpiece. I played from sixth through tenth grades; I quit when I was a junior.
Chorus was another thing altogether, and singing remains a joy to me. However, I mostly play music and sing in the car, so closing my eyes isn’t an option! Still, I feel my body sway in the driver’s seat and I revel when my voice blends with the singer’s.
For Olivia, there was the violin. She was in the grade prior to when orchestra was offered in her school when she heard an orchestra play for an assembly in her school gym. Out of the whole orchestra, she zeroed in on the violin. When she came home from school that day, it was the first thing she told me about, before playground drama and lunchtime conversations. “I want to play the violin, Mama,” she said. This was in November, and she followed this quickly with “I’m going to ask Santa.”
Ohboy. Well, Santa delivered. And a love of the violin and music was born. Olivia went on to play acoustic guitar, electric guitar, and the ukulele. But the violin…well, that’s her love. And while playing on your own is wonderful, the magic really comes when you’re sitting in a big group and somehow, all those different instruments come together to form a sound that is whole. You are wrapped in music, inside and out. Olivia, in her junior year of college, wanted to be wrapped again.
And so, enter Wisconsin Intergenerational Orchestra, where Olivia sits with the first violins.
Last night, I sat down in an auditorium with Michael and my son Andy to listen to Olivia’s first concert. It was the orchestra’s first concert since the pandemic hit. Even before they started playing, you could feel a thrum of joy from the stage. When I ordered the tickets, I didn’t know where Olivia sat, so I just asked for the best available. Unfortunately, while this put us in the first row, it put us on the far right…and Olivia sat on the far left. I was able to go up to the stage and say hello to her and take her photo where she sat, waiting, her feet tapping with nerves and excitement.
Throughout the show, I had a clear view, through the music stands and other players, of Olivia’s feet and her legs, covered with black tights. With each song, I watched as her feet and legs bounced and jived with the music, keeping her rhythm, joining in with all the others, whose legs moved like a chorus line. In between songs, when the orchestra was asked to stand for acknowledgement, her head would pop up, looking directly at me, her bright red mask curved in what I knew was a smile.
The music was phenomenal. In my seat, my feet and legs joined with the orchestra’s, and my head bobbed with the rhythm too. I wasn’t making the music, but I was still a part of it. And I was with my daughter too.
When we met Olivia after the concert, the first words out of her mouth were, “That was so fun!”
It was spoken with the enthusiasm that can only come from a musical-type child, mixed in together with an artsy-type child and a writery-type child.
Offering great gratitude to the Wisconsin Intergenerational Orchestra.
And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.