This I Believe

Benjamin - Conway, Arkansas
Entered on November 22, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: creativity

I believe in the power of music to bring people together.

I remember performing in my first orchestra concert. I was a sophomore in college, and had just begun learning the bassoon a few months earlier. As we played our final piece, Mozart’s 39th Symphony in E-flat Major, I vividly remember awaiting my four measures of fame in the second movement. The part wasn’t grand—just ten seconds or so of the melody as it was passed from instrument to instrument—but it was my debut, so to speak, as an orchestral bassoonist, and I was more than a little nervous. I thought back to the countless run-throughs we had done in rehearsal, and to the many hours of practicing I had done on my own—sitting in the cramped, windowless, and somewhat odorous practice rooms. In the end, it wasn’t confidence in my ability that got me through. It was the smiling nod from the conductor, reassuring me that we were in this together.

Since I began playing the piano at age five, music has allowed me to connect with more people than I can keep up with. There is something truly magical about music that allows strange souls to mingle. Whether it’s performing an intimate duet or shouting out the words to Billy Joel’s “Piano Man” at my favorite piano bar with a hundred other people, I feel the most connected to humanity when we’re experiencing music together. It’s almost as if our “selves” dissolve and all that remains is the human spirit.

I’m really not sure what it is about music that creates this phenomenon of closeness. I think that, for me, music is such a raw means of emotional expression that I can’t help but be touched by the people around me. When I play, I am baring my soul to the world in the most honest way I know how. I don’t see how it’s possible to do that and not feel some sort of connection.

And the connection doesn’t stop in the present. It’s a bond throughout history—with the time and place that the piece was written, with performers who have played the piece before me, with performers who will play the piece in the future, even with the centuries-dead composer.

Something else happened during that first concert. After I made eye contact with the conductor, my eyes met those of my fiancée—seated in the audience and grinning with affection. I remember that it was music that brought us together. Eight years ago, we met in our high school jazz band. We sat next to each other in the saxophone section, and quickly grew to like, love, and cherish one another—our bond through music fueling our passion all the way.

I believe that music is the one thing keeping humanity from total isolation. After all, music is a constant reminder that we are, like my conductor believed, all in this together.