Cell By Cell

Our home used to resound with music in the years 1994 to 2012. Some of the early notes were painful to the ears. I thought I’d die, cell by cell, from bombardment by bad notes.

There must be such a thing. There must be people who, sensing they have poor musical sense, go on learning music anyway. Cells must pop inside them—under an avalanche of bad phrasing—becoming goo.

I imagine a new diagnosis of sorts in medicine in which the doctor places a stethoscope on a man’s skin and says, in a mournful tone, “I’m afraid, Mister NoNotes, that you’ve contracted Immusicalia. You will die. Unless you stop singing or playing the trombone, of course.”

So you can see why, in the early years of parenting, I worried, I was suffocated with anxiety, in fact, that my children may not have inherited my musicality and that, instead, they might have acquired their father’s. But the girl and the boy became sensitive musicians with fine ears and nimble fingers. I was sad, however, when they decided that while the fine arts would never leave them, they would not pursue a professional life in arts performance.

This morning, I received a message from my son in Berlin. “Hey, I’ve rented a violin and I’m playing after such a long time. It’s so fun.”

I saw the message rather late today but ever since I read it, I’ve been feeling that my cells are holding hands inside of me. They’re putting their whole cells in and their whole cells out and their whole cells in and turning themselves around. They’re doing the hokey pokey and turning them cells around and that’s what it's all about.

~~~To see the reactions to this post on Facebook, go to http://bit.ly/MusCLFB

Meditation On Strains

I'm working while strains of Meditation from Thais fill my sunroom. I'm thinking of my little girl who played it with feeling and finesse years ago. She'll be 24 the day after.

I wonder when I'll ever hear her play the violin again. And then I remind myself that we let our children learn art also for art's sake, not just as a means to a particular end but as a means to any number of means and ends. To seek the finest in art and thought; to hear nuance; to winnow virtuosity from mastery; to not always tow the line of a chorus; to appreciate the choice of one word over another; to reread passages of fine writing; to stop inside museums on an alone-day; to chase the core of people in friendships; to weep at a new song; to remember to be graceful but to never forget to be gracious; to create something of value; to listen and in the listening hear more than just words; to hunt, not for designer things, but for the design of great things; to see the apples through an open window; and to buy an Apple, always, always, always, even if it's called an iPad Maxi.