Sharing Our Gift


by Robin Munson
A while back, Art and I had a gig! We played at the annual holiday brunch at the community clubhouse.  It was the first time we had played out in a very long time. (Like, decades!) I played piano and Art played acoustic guitar.  We were joined by our neighbor, Gary, who plays violin in a local symphony and string quartet, and later (quite spontaneously) by our neighbor, Vib, on his harmonica.

There were around 50 people there of all ages, milling around the clubhouse, eating a potluck brunch, laughing, joking, and wishing each other the joy of the season. As people were streaming in we played quietly in the background, just to help create the holiday mood.  Our set consisted mostly of the Great American Songbook of holiday songs; “White Christmas”, “Winter Wonderland”, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, “Baby It’s Cold Outside”, etc.  We added in a few of the corniest old chestnuts – “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Jingle Bells”.  And of course, we had to play “Oh Chanukah Oh Chanukah”, which by the way, sounds great with a fiddle! All in all we had practiced about 13 songs.  After everyone had eaten, we went back to the grand piano (which had thankfully been tuned for a recent party). We had put lyric sheets out and people started to mill around and sing along.  We had one woman with a lovely, soulful pop voice who served to lead the singing and a man with a beautiful tenor who sings with a chorale, but apart from that, it was just “regular” folks having a good time.  It must have gone on for over an hour, and you could see eyes lighting up and frown lines softening.  A few times we had to start a song over.  Nobody cared.  It was very relaxed and very sweet.

It reminded me of why I became a musician in the first place.  There is such joy in sharing music. It didn’t matter that these were “covers”, that I couldn’t sing because of vocal problems, that there was no amp for the guitar, that the room was not acoustically perfect, that Art and I were a little bit rusty, and certainly, least important of all, that there was no money changing hands.  No, wait.  That made it better!

Art’s favorite Christmas carol is “The Little Drummer Boy” (the original version, of course!) It tells the story of a child playing his drum for the Baby Jesus.  The Baby smiles.  Who doesn’t get a chill when they hear that?! Because we all know that in a world such as the one we live in, it is the simple gift from the heart that is most powerful.

So when you get frustrated with “The Biz” and you wonder why in the world you chose such a profession, remember:  You have a gift that has the power to touch hearts, making joy where there was sorrow, peace where there was conflict, order where there was confusion, excitement where there was ennui.  Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Joyous Kwanza.  May the New Year bring peace and happiness, and may you continue to share your most precious gift! (It’s so much better than a blender.)

19 Replies to “Sharing Our Gift”

  1. As I read that and your neighbours were joining in etc I thought that’s what it’s all about! Making music for the true value it brings! Fantastic! An apt reminder while I’m researching how to make filthy lucre from it! 🙂

    1. Thank you, Gregg — I’m glad that resonated with you. As for the “filthy lucre”, well, what can I say? That’s a dilemma for all of us, I’m afraid. (Okay, most of us!) I hope you find just the right balance for you.

      1. You know I was at an African themed festival today and there were two African drummers playing with a circle of festival-goers seated around them who had been given drums. The look of pleasure on their faces from the sheer enjoyment of joining in and playing together reminded me of your post. Thanks for the good wishes.

    1. Thanks to everyone for your kind words — Merry Christmas — Happy Holidays — May 2016 be a year of peace and prosperity for everyone.

      1. “So when you get frustrated with “The Biz” and you wonder why in the world you chose such a profession, remember: You have a gift that has the power to touch hearts, making joy where there was sorrow, peace where there was conflict, order where there was confusion, excitement where there was ennui.”

        Perhaps this business is so frustrating because chasing placements of 15 second music/sound bytes on cable shows is not the best use of our gifts. Rather than touching hearts, making joy where there was sorrow, or bringing peace to the world, we merely amuse — at best. And, at the end of the day, we have no emotional connection to our creations. Maybe we need to respect and nurture our gifts.

        1. Michael – Thank you for your thoughtful comments.

          “Maybe we need to respect and nurture our gifts”.

          I believe we do. But that might look different for different people. Each of us has to wrestle with the idea that we have to somehow make a living. It would be nice if we could always be paid decently to write music that makes the most of our gifts, but as we all know, that is a privilege reserved for the very, very few. For the rest of us, it becomes a balancing act. How much are we willing/able to sacrifice in order to make a living at our craft? Or – Do we make our living at something else entirely in order to preserve the integrity of our music and its mission? I don’t think there is any one-size-fits-all answer to this question, and I even think your personal answer can change over time. But for me, anyway, it helps that I have always felt I had a choice. Sometimes I made my living with music, and sometimes I did other things. Sometimes I did some of both. But knowing that I had made a conscious choice helped with that sense of “stuckness”.

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