Guest post by Simon Reich.
Before recording became a viable option to most home-based musicians, I would improvise and compose tunes at my piano each day, as a way of winding down after work.
Sometimes I would forget them completely by the next day, but that didn’t concern me, as I had felt something quite deep and cathartic during the creation of these musical adventures.
A New Era
But now with the advent of affordable computer based recording equipment, I’ve been able to capture these inspired tunes and then release them to the world via platforms such as SoundCloud. It has only been since then that I realised the power this music has, passing all borders, creeds and ethnic divides.
This became patently obvious to me as I received a message from a young woman in Saudi Arabia, who explained that – because she was not allowed to move freely around the city she lived in without a male relative chaperon, or drive a car, and experienced various other impediments on her freedom of movement (because she refused to wear a burka) – she felt under house arrest. And she told me that her window to another world is the various piano based tunes I released on the internet.
The long and heartfelt letter she wrote me, touched me deeply and made me realise that the improvisations I composed and recorded in a small country town here in Australia not only help me personally, but are providing solace to people all over the world, including a hurting young woman in Saudi Arabia!
Over three years on the internet music platform Soundcloud, I have had many similar messages of thanks regarding topics as wide as the music helping listeners through tough times, bringing joy to a period of depression, escaping the humdrum of life for a few minutes, grounding them during a time of stress, and many other messages about the positive influence that simple musical notes were imparting on their spirits.
At the time of throwing notes onto my daily sketchbook of music, I never realised the far reaching effect these tunes would have.
As musicians all of us have this ability to affect lives in a positive way. But also as encouragers of others’ gifts, and through our responses to those who have touched us, we also have a truly marvellous and supportive task.
The Power of Encouragement
As many of us who are parents, teachers, or have leadership roles, words of encouragement (even though we may be bursting to tell the person how bad a certain task has been performed) have such a strong, positive influence on the recipient.
I remember as a young child playing each year at piano eisteddfods. An old lady came up to me after a particularly “off” performance and told me, with genuine affection on her face, that she had been following my performances for many years and believed that I had a bright future, despite this temporary mishap. I had never met this woman, or knew who she was, but the wave of joy she set off in my heart was indescribable, and has been something I have held dear for all these years.
Supportive comments and encouragement are priceless to students and veteran musicians alike. Don’t just think what you’d like to express: say it! You just don’t know what positive chain of events you are potentially setting off.
If you are a musician, continue to bless other people with your performances. Unbeknownst to you, your audience are reaping the benefits of your heartfelt recital.
If you are a music fan, parent, teacher, musician or caring human being, give encouragement where it is due. This charitable act never ceases to be rewarding for both the giver and receiver.
You may enjoy this track, which Simon composed specifically in response to the message he received from the young woman in Saudi Arabia: