In a special Christmas message for Pianodao, Karen Marshall offers generous words of encouragement and advice for musicians, teachers and parents during this busy season…
Focusing on the ‘joy’ of music at Christmas time
For musicians Christmas can be one of, if not the most busy time of the year.
I have in the past done rather a good job of feeling pretty sorry for myself as I’ve run from one Christmas concert to the next, from Nativities to carol concerts, my own children performing or playing for Christmas services.
One year the number of events was heading towards 20, and my husband and I were pretty convincing Christmas Scrooges by the end of it.
However, Christmases have also been some of the most special musical experiences I’ve ever had in my life. Even today I am reminded of those previous memories. From the songs I’ve loved to sing since childhood to the massive amount of accompanying I have done for Christmas services, especially where children have sung beautiful chorister solos with a stunning, clear tone.
This week I have really tried to stand back a little and focus on the joy of music that can be particularly special for the children and adults we work with during the Christmas period.
Tears in our eyes
Today at school I had tears in my eyes as five little Year 2 girls sang their part in the Angel Song – the teacher in me couldn’t stop but be so proud of them. It was all the more special as their Kodály musicianship had resulted in lovely intonation. These angels were not only cute, but melodically it was a beautiful sound.
As the whole of the children joined in with the chorus they sang with passion and enthusiasm. Real joy spread across their countenance. And I have to say I felt pretty guilty about my previous self-pity at this time of year.
Don’t get me wrong; it’s tough for musicians, the sheer quantity of work we have over the period. Yet I do feel that I’ve not focussed enough on the vast quantity of joy experienced by so many through the music we perform, facilitate or collaborate in.
As my piano pupils played their carols to me, many commented on how much their parents enjoyed them playing them. I received a text from one parent just saying how lovely it was to hear all the carols be practised.
Another e-mailed me to thank me for how happy their child was simply playing and singing familiar melodies.
At school children told me how much of the music they truly loved and one child came to and said,
“You know, my Mum cries every time she hears us sing Love Shone Down.”
So I am writing this to all my fellow musicians to say, if you are feeling tired and stressed running from concert to concert, take some time to look at your audience and see the joy in their faces.
Focus on happy excited students and pupils. Yes it is tough for us musicians this time of year, but I believe Christmas would be so much less without us. I believe that musicians bring so much joy to Christmas.
We create our own miracles in school halls, churches, our own studios to concert halls. Music touches so many at this time of year, and brings the magic of Christmas.
Some words of Thanks
On my final post of the year I just want to personally thank all Pianodao readers for your support for Andrew’s site, and all his amazing work.
As a personal friend of his, I want you to know how much he thinks about you all. Huge care goes into the site, his readers are at the heart of his blogging. Your interests, needs and confidence always at the top of his mind.
He has some exciting things planned for you all next year. Do keep visiting as there’s so much more ahead.
Wishing you all a special Christmas period and a happy healthy New Year.
With warmest wishes to all Pianodao readers – thank you from me for bothering to read my blogs too on Pianodao – I look forward to blogging for you all in the New Year.
Pianodao is such a special place for me to write.
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A sweet way to say “Thank You!"
A treat to savour!