The Arrangement of Sound

Marina - Burr Ridge, Illinois
Entered on April 25, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: creativity, work

I couldn’t help wincing when Gilda, the Merit Scholarship judge, asked me what my reason for playing music was. It was an extremely unfair and almost evil question to ask in a five-minute audition.

She gave me a small smirk and leaned back, waiting for a reply. I felt my face burn with shame because I knew the answer but physically could not let the words out of my mouth. I could feel the minutes creep by- the seconds slip away- until time disappeared. So I panicked. I looked at her helplessly and whimpered, “I play music… because it’s… fun.”

People say that music is life and preach about how music is their “tool for expression, and relaxation.” I usually respond with a wince or a shudder because the statements seem rather cliché. It’s not that I disagree with them… it’s just that it troubles me that not many people take the time to think about the true value of music. I was devastated when I found myself explaining that my sole reason for playing music was based on a similar empty statement.

What I meant to tell the judge was this: Playing music is difficult. It takes a lot of effort, energy, and focus. Sometimes you get so frustrated, you want to scream and cry because you just can’t do it. You force yourself to calm down and try again, slower, better, and you do get it… eventually. But the question is: why put yourself through all the pain? Well, it’s rewarding! Yes! You worked hard and now you can play the music. Good for you.

But really, when it comes down to it, I’d have to say it’s worth it because when you play the music for someone else you get the greatest feeling in the world. It doesn’t even matter who listens to you, as long as they’re there. It’s unreal. Have you ever heard a song start playing, and pretty much melt because you’ve heard the voice before, and it is so beautiful you can’t explain it? Or have you ever been in the car with friends when a song turns on and everything suddenly becomes still, because everyone is listening to the music, trying to absorb every second of it? Have you ever gone to a concert and felt your body become weightless and your heart lift as your favorite musician walked onto the stage? It’s the most wonderful feeling, hearing your favorite musician play your favorite part of a song. The feeling is intangible, breathtaking, maybe even life changing.

I play music because, sometimes, when I look at my audience, I see them close their eyes or smile as I play the last note in a piece as quietly as I can, and let it fade away until it’s gone, but not really gone in our minds. I play music because, sometimes, it’s so intense I am submerged, and when I look up, the piece is over and I’ve left the audience out of breath. I play music because I am that person that makes an audience melt. I can turn the music hall completely still. And I can be the one who lifts you up.

I play music because music is (my) life.