Forgetting Self in Art

Madeleine L’Engle in her book Walking on Water, Reflections on Faith and Art, talks about the point in art where the artist is so consumed in creating, that they are completely unmindful of his or her self. Those are amazing moments. I’ve had them writing. Where the characters and the story are so alive that its almost like watching the events unfold. It’s easier for me when I’m writing, because I am usually alone. I can get caught up in the moment and let it carry me where it will. It’s a little frightening however I’m singing, playing harp or (Lord have mercy on me) the piano. There have been a few points in my life where I’ve been so carried away by the piece I’m playing or singing, that I completely lose track of where I am (this is definitely not to be confused with the times that I just didn’t practice and had no idea what I was doing.)  One such experience took place this past summer. I got the opportunity to sing at a friend’s wedding. It will remain one of the musical highlights of my life.

For one. I got to perform with five individuals who had so diligently studied their craft, that we got together three times (four times for a more difficult piece), and were able to seamlessly put all the parts together. We picked up an extra piece of music (in four part harmony) with four voices, we got it together, and it was beautiful. There is something completely magical about experiences like that.

Secondly, that man who sang Andrea Bocelli’s part in The Prayer (while I attempted Celine Dion’s part) had an absolutely glorious voice. Our first rehearsal I was so intimidated, because there have been very few times in my life when I couldn’t be heard, and this guy blew me out of the water. And again, it was beautiful. Very beautiful.

But the main thing that made the experience so special, was the pianist/organist. Jeffery Arnold, was a very close friend of the bride’s mother, and just about as talented of a musician as anyone can be. Again, it was slightly intimidating because this guy trains professional vocalists, in Chicago, and I haven’t taken a vocal lesson or (two month prior not included) practiced and exercised my voice in twelve years. But he walked into the rehearsal so humbly, with his organ shoes. He sat down at the piano, and helped us run through a couple of things, then the entire song. We made it though the wedding rehearsal, and as we were getting ready to leave I was completely nervous because I felt really pitchy. He stopped me and reminded me of something that I had forgotten.

He said something along the lines of, “You guys sound great, and you’ve practiced, now you have to relax and have fun with it. Enjoy the music”

And as a great musician can do, he made it fun for the amateur. And I may or may not have gotten a little swept up in the moment and forgotten where I was (just for a second). Because of Jeff’s advice this became one of those moment’s I will cherish always. I will always remember Luis, Rory, Meg, Mr. Petrucha, and Jeff. It’s seldom that people who come into our lives so quickly for such a brief time to make such a big impact, but these five made a big impact on me.

Jeff, thank you for reminding me of a very important lesson, which I had forgotten. To practice hard, then enjoy the music. I don’t think I will ever forget it. Rest in Peace!




Jerusalem HarpAnother musical highlight, playing harp in Jerusalem!

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