Music Makers and Shakers

Friday night, the thumping beats of “Turn Down For What” and “Talk Dirty to Me” echoed in my head. The audience was screaming, cheering, laughing, moving; the music wormed its way deep into our bones. It was the second-to-last number of the Repertory Dance Group (RDG) Fall 2014 show, and everyone was loving it. As the last song came on—“Rather Be”—and the dancers—over 100—all flooded back onto the stage for the final number, the audience roared.

The next evening, I sat in the quiet dark of the Schneebeck Concert Hall. On stage, a single violinist dressed in red coaxed music out of the strings. The soaring notes of the movements by Mozart and Rachmaninoff and Bruch and Ponce filled the hall. I didn’t close my eyes to listen; rather, I watched as the violinist, a junior, bent and wove with the notes she played.

I have no experience in music. The closest I ever got to playing an instrument was the month in elementary school we spent learning the recorder, at the end of which my music teacher did not let me perform in the class-wide recital. Because I was terrible. And this terribleness extends throughout anything related to music—I am incapable of dancing to a bit or singing along to song in tune.

Despite my inabilities, or perhaps because of, most of my friends are tied to the more musical arts in some way. Two of them play the clarinet, one of them performs in musical theatre, one has perfect pitch and plays the flute and the piano, one dances in RDG. And I get taken to every single show, from ridiculously good a cappella concerts to musicals to orchestra performances to, yes, RDG and violin recitals.

The dichotomy of the two shows that I saw over the weekend was stunning. One was in a high school theatre; the 800 seats were completely filled; the audience moved and clapped and cheered along to the music as the dancers swayed on-stage. And RDG accepts everyone who tries out—it was filled with people who danced, not because they were good, but because they wanted. The violin concert was much more sedate, with less flashing lights and thumping beats; the violinist herself was hugely talented and a major in that field; the concert hall was intently focused on simply listening to the notes she played.

I cannot make music myself: I cannot play an instrument or sing in tune or even tap my toe in time to the beat. But I can definitely appreciate it.

(Also, my friends see it as their duty to educate me.  So now I know which dances were difficult and which ones were not, and which composer focused on tone over structure—and therefore sounded better.)

(It was Rachmaninoff.)