Tuesday, February 12, 2013


We slip quietly into our seats overlooking the instruments below.

The melodic hum of their tuning ritual fills up the cavernous beauty in front of me: forest green (my favorite color back then) mixed with gold leaf and warm wood.

We have just ascended three staircases to get to our little box seating and have admired the golden walls along the way.  I am still in awe from the story my Dad has pieced together about how feathery thin the gold leaf is before it is applied.

He has helped raise money to build this place: Symphony Hall.  And I am so proud of him.

I feel like the luckiest girl to be there, all dressed up.  My awe that has graced over the exquisite building now turns to the buzzing instruments below.  Not only has my Dad explained the intricacies of the building and how it was built, he has spilled out velvety descriptions of how those instruments will create beautiful harmony together.  I know the beauty those instruments can create from the classical music my Mother has playing in the car and throughout the house and from the occasional lucky interludes we have when playing in our own elementary family string quartet amidst the scratchy and off tune parts. 

This will be different. Live music right below me.  The bass and the French horn melding together in a melodious interlude, the violins moving in perfect rhythm, the richness of the cellos interlacing throughout.

I rest my chin on my hands clasped on the golden railing in anticipation of what will ensue below me.

I’d love to say that I am mesmerized for the full two plus hours those instruments carried out that gorgeous music.  But after the first couple pieces my head begins to bob and my eyelids get heavy.  It is beautiful, to be sure, and I appreciate it.  But I am still young and can’t quite grasp the gravity of the beauty from my spot in the universe. 

Although I’m tired and ready to head home when the final clapping dies down late into the evening, a seed of classical music love has been planted firmly in my heart. 

And it grows each time I hear an instrument. 

It doesn’t hurt that my mother majored in music in college and can play any of the intriguing instruments that my parents’ collection holds, hanging lining our living room wall.  The deep richness of her viola strings are soft and savory in contrast to the songs I scratch out on my violin and that seed of music love blossoms further.

Fast forward to this year.  I often think of those days way back when when my parents planted that love of music seed in my heart.  It pangs stronger when I hear the high school orchestra play.  I lean over and whisper to my girls in awe about how all those crazy instruments can play together such beauty. 

I wonder how I can help them develop that same love of classical music I have…that gift my parents gave me. 

I decide (along with Dave) that our family will “major” in music this year.  We will sing all the hymns better at church.  We will get a real piano teacher.  We will have it wafting more readily through our home. 

My friend gives me tickets to the symphony she can’t use. 

With deep gratitude I take my almost-birthday-girl Claire on a special date to our own symphony hall.

It isn’t the same as the golden leaf, forest-green-seat one I grew up going to, but it is glamorous and beautiful with long chandeliers.

I try to spill out the stories of how beautiful it all is to my own daughter.  All the instruments.  How much work it takes to get to that sound to greet our ears.

We sit in excitement as the music lifts us. 

Sure enough, although it is beautiful, we are tired and Claire’s head bobs lazily a few times.

But as we leave, I look at that glowing daughter of mine and realize she has it: that seed of music loving now planted firmly in her heart.

I just need to give it time…and water it and give it sunshine now and again. 

It will blossom as she blossoms and grows herself.2013-01-19 iPhone 68677Music is a gift. 

Especially classical music as far as I’m concerned.

And I am so very grateful for it’s beauty woven through my life.


  1. Thank you so much for this beautifully written post! I am a new, young music teacher (Kindergarten through grade 5) and my students are heading off to their very own symphony experience this week with their respective classroom teachers. The symphony is such a special experience in itself, but these students are from what is well known as our city's "inner city" school - it is likely these kids wouldn't have the opportunity to visit the symphony without the help of the school. I am going to print off and read your blog post to them on our Thursday class; it will be the perfect story to engage us in a discussion about their own experience!

  2. Hooray for you Shawni! We must be synced! The Grammie Camps are going to major in music this year too! Music takes you to such wonderful places!

  3. I love this. I grew up playing music and attending an occasional magical concert, similar to you. I had every intention of having my kids play music their whole lives, but it's turning out so differently than I planned. They're still young enough, I sure hope I still have time to plant that seed of appreciation and love!

  4. I'm a classical musician (french horn to be exact : ) and this post of course thrilled me. I have three young kids at home during the day, but many evenings and weekends, it's time for some additional soul-fulfilling work. As one famous horn player said, People come to concerts to visit the "other side" a glimpse of heaven, and we are the physicians that offer them that opportunity to heal their souls.

  5. Thank you for this post! I took my 10 year old daughter to Symphony Hall last Saturday and she fell asleep halfway through the night and I was telling myself the whole drive home that the music had to have touched something inside her... I did plant a seed. Thanks for the reminder :)

  6. Just wanted to let you know I made your white bean chicken chili today and it is YummY! Thanks for the easy recipe!!

  7. It must be a worldwide music kinda year. We have made the commitment to music this year too. We wil host a violin,flute,saxophone,clarinet,guitar,percussion and five pianists. Phew that's a lot of practice. But oh the joy when they make that sweet music! Good luck in your musical pursuits!


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