Saturday, February 9, 2013

I felt cooler just being in the room; Or a lecture on jazz

Music isn't something I know a lot about.. Because even though I took piano, song flute, saxophone, violin, and guitar lessons when I was younger, I still can't play a thing on any of those instruments.

Also, I'm pretty sure I must be tone deaf, because I can't sing a single note; especially if the person next to me starts singing the harmony.

But there's just something about music. It's like magic. There aren't many things in the world that can speak to so many people. There just aren't many things in the world that transcendent. But music is that way. You don't have to be an expert to connect with music. You don't have to be fluent in musical dialect for it to speak to your soul.

Which brings me to jazz.

I think I bought my first jazz CD my senior year of high school. It was just a CD of one of my old babysitters had put out after she studied at the Berklee School of Music (so it was pretty good). I just couldn't stop listening to it. I would push the repeat button over and over and over. Since then, I still haven't had much exposure to jazz other than my Billie Holiday pandora station and the occasional lectures in Humanities classes. But I still love it. It's so virile, so alive, so real. Which of course is why it's best to always listen to it live.

Yesterday, I went with some friends to a jazz performance/lecture on campus. The topic was "Jazz and Civic Life." I learned about how jazz musicians interact with each other, and what we can take from that, and how it can be applied to life. They talked about how musicians merge together, what leadership means, what happens when someone makes a mistake.

In the church, we talk a lot about our talents. We talk about developing them, and sharing them, and using them to build other people. Edification is the word; edification of others, of the whole. And I appreciate that. But last night, as I sat in the back of the auditorium watching the musicians play, I had this thought:

Instead of asking how our talents can build other people (albeit a worthy question) maybe in civic life it would be better to recognize how you can spend a little more time supporting the talents of others, rather than solely supporting your own. After listening to the lecture, it just seemed to me that jazz is a conversation. And when you're not taking you're turn to talk, you're doing what you can to support the person who is. Edification is still the goal. It's just accomplished in a slightly different way.


And aside from all deep metaphors about civic life that we can draw, jazz is also useful because it's the best music to make out to (not that I know from personal experience).

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