Playing life

By: Raymund Fernandez July 17,2018 - 09:03 PM


My paternal grandparents’ house in Bonifacio St. was typical for its time.

It survived the war and so too its inhabitants.

It grew old apace and sired typical progeny. It was a house of music and family parties. Tatay Kikoy played violin.

The children played piano; but mostly biased to old standards, if not the classical.

They may have looked down on The Beatles, The Bee Gees.

Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, etc.

This house of music expressed in no uncertain terms the generation gap of the 60s.

The grandchildren were not encouraged, some were even disallowed, from following the music career.

And so it became a house filled with “locked” pianos that only the older generation played.

The house’s love for music persisted albeit somewhat tragically silently.

New music became an act of rebellion sounding much like a slap in the face of the old pre-war values that defined the older generation; Which was why I always found my cousins in Bonifacio, Louise, Victor, and Roger quite interesting.

They were cousins who all played guitar excellently well. Roger passed away recently and his fellow-musician friends gave two evenings of tributes.

I discovered how little I knew of him and his life.

He had dedicated it almost entirely to music. I felt humbled; at the same time, genuinely inspired, and proud though also quite spiritually bothered.

I play music only a little. My art is painting and sculpture and the teaching of it.

And yes, I also love to write.

I have been criticised of being Attention Deficit, for not having the ability to concentrate, for doing too many things and having too many unfinished works. I am guilty as charged.

I am also addicted to seeking the constant company of family and friends.

I was told I should put my art above all these. I disagree.

This thinking mistakes fame for art. You do need to concentrate to pursue a successful career. And yet, my art comes a poor second to life. I learned this from playing a bit of music.

The art of music follows after a psychological construct. We all derive pleasure from listening to it.

This pleasure is amplified if we know enough music to imagine ourselves playing it. In this way, we can go into the music and live inside it.

To be a serious musician, however, is something else entirely. Thousands of hours of practice are required.

You immerse yourself into a particular language that allows you to navigate this particular world. But I do believe this: Most people have a choice to become what they want: lawyers, doctors, business people, etc.

However, there is a tiny percentage of the population who are not allowed that choice.

They become artists because they do not like to do nor can they do anything else. An even tinier segment of them become musicians. Roger was one.

And so lived like so many others a difficult life; though perhaps a happy one.

After all that practice, one does not do music.

Nor does one work it. One plays music.

One enjoys playing it the same way all artists enjoy doing art – the same way we all enjoy life; by loving it and playing it.

I remember this like a prayer: They will put me in a box just once. And only after I’m dead. Roger made me think this..

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