My Cheesy Music Essay

I entered a lot of music competitions this year. It was the first year I’ve really been good enough to take competing seriously, and let me tell you this: It was scary. Scary and intimidating. There were kids there so good, they blew my mind. Out of all the contests I entered, I didn’t win anything except for one. And that one was a writing contest. (Go figure, huh?)

I’m not really that good at essay writing, but when I saw this contest online I thought that writing about music sounded like fun, so I decided to give it a whirl. The essay had to be entitled: “Music: An Instrument of Universal Expression”.

Anyway, I thought I’d post the essay I wrote that won so that  everyone in my family could see it. I wrote it a while back, so my editing skills really kicked in today when looking over it. But this is the way I submitted it, so I had to force myself not to make any changes. Here it is, for your reading pleasure:

Music: An Instrument of Universal Expression

“I once watched an old Vladimir Horowitz video that will stick by me forever. It is from April of 1986, during the Cold War. Horowitz fled Russia in the 1920’s, living comfortably in the West. He never returned to his home country until the end of his life—when he finally agreed to give a performance in Moscow, in 1986. For the encore of that performance, Horowitz returned and played “Träumerei,” a simple piece by Schumann. It is this video that I had the pleasure of seeing, and that has been permanently ingrained in my mind.

The song is about childhood dreaming—reminisces of a time bygone. The video showcases the facial expressions of several Russian audience members. Young or old, the crowd is clearly touched. It is apparent in that room that, no matter what the past held, the piece that is being played is free of all pain. The music is beautiful and binding, building a bridge across time and memories, transporting the listener to that one lovely memory.

It is because of this intense emotion that the particular video is so powerful. Because even I, sitting at my computer, experience the same feeling of oneness emanating from that piano as those Russians. I am unconscious of any boundary lines, foreign governments, or misunderstandings. I only feel compassion, beauty, and a tinge of bittersweet memories.

This is the power of music: the power to transport… the power to bind… the power to express what our hearts are feeling, even when our words fail us. Music is one of the few blessed gifts on this earth that man can use to communicate without words or gestures. Everyone, deep inside, has experienced something that leads them to understand the message behind the notes. It’s more than just intervals or polyphony or time measure: Music speaks to the soul.

The joy we feel deep inside when we hear something beautiful touches our hearts and subtly changes it. Whether that sound is a chirping jaybird or a Beethoven sonata, we remember it because it speaks to us—to exactly what we are feeling and thinking. And suddenly music is intimate, something we can hide inside or share with the world, because it belongs to us. It doesn’t matter who wrote the song, who played it, or who heard it last: music transcends ownership, belonging to whomever it touches.

The style of music has changed over the centuries, but the purpose of music has remained the same. To delight; to touch; to confuse; to make whole again… Music still expresses what we feel as human beings. And in listening to music we still enjoy this culmination of our feeling. As long as we embrace this ability of music, all who hear it will be bound—Russians and Americans, Germans and Japanese, and all the nations that make up this world. It is an instrument of universal expression that can never be taken from us.”

Well, I hope you have a great day! If you want to view the Youtube video I mentioned, you can watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qq7ncjhSqtk



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  1. * YaYa Tomczak says:

    Congratulations, Rachel. I think you expressed yourself very well, but I do sense a maturity in your writing. I think your blog is helping you as a writer. You’re doing an amazing job! Keep up the good work!
    Love, YaYa

    | Reply Posted 7 years, 2 months ago

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