Searching For Inspiration

Mike Lawson • ArchivesChoral • November 17, 2006

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We all seek musical inspiration from different sources and occasionally it comes along even when we’re not actively searching. It doesn’t have to arise from our particular specialty, and inspiration could come from a variety of venues, including a symphony, rock, or jazz

Recently I had one of those moments when my wife and I managed to acquire fi fth-row seats to a Boston Symphony concert at the Tanglewood Music Center. As we sat in the beautiful open-air amphitheater known as “The Shed,” the inspiration was instilled in me. Standing only about 15 feet in front of me was Gil Shaham, one of the great virtuoso violinists of our time, who performed the Beethoven Violin Concerto in D.

Not only was I floored by his effortless technique, musicality, and tone quality, but I was also awed by the fact that he seemed completely relaxed and was enjoying the performance perhaps even more than anyone in the audience.

There is no doubt that our students may be equally motivated when they hear superior musicians perform, and luckily it doesn’t have to be the Chicago Symphony Orchestra or the Metropolitan Opera. Many times junior high school students will be inspired by the local high school band or by a local college or professional group. As a younger student, I can remember hearing our high school ensembles and being
excited about how good they were.

It was motivational to me and encouraged me to set higher goals for myself and improve my skills. It often doesn’t take an enormous amount of effort to organize a concert or even a rehearsal to help provide musical stimulation for your students, and it could pay tremendous benefi ts in terms of heightened interest.

Many of the United States military musical ensembles travel around the country and are available for school concerts. These top-flight musicians and singers provide very high-quality performances. They perform free concerts at many venues and almost always provide enjoyable experiences. Many top professional and community orchestras, operas, and choral organizations also offer inexpensive,
or sometimes free, group packages for students to attend their concerts.

The benefit is twofold – not only are you providing inspiration for your ensembles, but the students may also develop a life-long interest in, and support for, the performing arts. With declining support for classical music in the United States, we can only hope that our students will help to keep our nation’s professional ensembles performing.

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