The Sweet Sound of Music
On November fourth, I went into the inner city with some family friends to a “Tribute to Abbey Lincoln” concert performed by Heidi Martin and her instrumental ensemble. When I first walked into the building that the performance was being held in, we walked into a CD music store. While the adults were interested in looking at the music, I thought I would browse as well, but did not recognize any of the artists or songs. Many of them were in different languages or were solely instrumental – CD’s I would never think to purchase for myself. It amazes me that there were so many options and cultural influences in this CD store and in the world around me that I did not even know existed. A similar message is portrayed in Schaefer’s “Shane” since Bob is closed off to the influences around him until Shane is the force that allows him to see other aspects in his life. After enjoying the performance, I saw how music brings all different people together, but can affect them in different ways. In the past months that I have been at Loyola, I have noticed a reoccurring trend. I find that when I open myself up to the city, the city opens itself up to me.
The most amazing connection throughout the performance to observe was between the performers and their music. In addition to Heidi Martin’s vocals, the instrumental ensemble consisted of musicians on the piano, trumpet, bass, and drums. When these musicians began to play their music, they were suddenly transformed. Watching them physically and emotionally get into their own music, the expressions on their faces showed true content and excitement. For these performers, playing their instruments was more than just making music. For them, it was a way to express and connect with themselves since their music defined them. Similar to how the music had this effect on the musicians, this is the affect that new experiences have on us. When we allow ourselves to make connections by opening up to our surroundings, we learn more about ourselves through the interaction in itself. What brought me to this conclusion were the closed eyes and the smile the bass player had on his face whenever the music began to play, whether he was playing it or not. This music elicited emotions that caused him to move and dance to the music, showing true happiness and that he was comfortable expressing himself through the music in front of an audience of people. In “Shane,” Schaefer says, how Joe and Shane “were looking at each other in a way that showed they were saying things that words could never cover” revealing that some connections are understood through mediums other than words (32). When we allow ourselves to make these connections with the music, we open ourselves up to their influence that can lead us to discover something about ourselves.
Not being musical myself, I have not always appreciate the effect that music can have; however, by observing the connections the musicians were able to make with their music and instruments, I was able to interact with the music more willingly. Not only could I see this happening to me, but to other members in the audience as well. One man in particular in the front row clapped, tapped his foot, and gave a shout whenever he felt the music empowered him to. He was able to connect to the music by physically involving himself. I, on the other hand, sat there quietly and reflected on how much I appreciated the talent I do not have myself. This music, however, put the entire audience on the same page although it elicited different emotions. When we open up to the connections music creates, we are able to learn about and develop ourselves according to these influences in the city we live. Schaefer stresses the importance of this idea by saying, “A man who watches what’s going on around him will make his mark” revealing that those who observe and understand their surroundings fully have a presence in the city (5). By allowing ourselves to connect with the music, we are able to make our individual mark. Understanding what is around us is not the most important, but opening up to our surroundings and letting other influences in is.
Similar to what Schaefer mentions in his novel “Shane,” I feel there is an “unspoken fraternity of knowledge beyond my reach” that I cannot be involved in within the city because I am only a student at Loyola (5). This performance, however, brought me to the realization that I can be involved in the city around me if I just open myself up to it. Similar to all the CD’s in the store, there are so many unknown things about the city that are there for me when I am ready to explore. The more I participate in these events, the more I feel a part of the city. When we are exposed to new things by opening ourselves up to the experiences around us, our opinions and views may change. Similar to how Bob’s views changed how he wanted to be when he became closer to Shane and said, “[n]ow I was not so sure. I wanted more and more to be like Shane” (41). By being exposed to influences aside from those solely of his childhood, Bob was able to form new ideas and opinions about his life. In addition, what was important in this experience was the influence of someone else. I would not have heard about or attended the performance without joining my family friends. This shows that, in life, our relationships inspire and push us to discover new things and by establishing these relationships, we are furthering our connections with the city around us. This is also true for the relationship between the musicians and the audience since it was through the connections that musicians made with their music that I was inspired to connect to it as well. A similar encounter between Shane and Joe occurred when removing the tree stump since “together they pushed in a fresh assault” (26). Essentially, Joe could only remove the tree stump with the support and assistance of Shane’s help. In order to gain a better understanding of the world around us, we need to take advantage of the opportunities that remain ahead of us and in our relationships.
Unlike the events on campus, no one knew I was a Loyola student at this event – I was just another member of the city. Getting out of the “Loyola bubble” felt nice and encouraged me to be more open minded about the city that I plan to live in for the next four years. Learning about all these influences around me, I wonder how the city will slowly begin to change me the more I immerse myself in it. This performance encouraged me to look for other things within the city to connect with including the arts, food, and popular attractions like the aquarium. By involving ourselves in these experiences, we continue to learn more and more about who we are. Similar to what Shane said to Joe, “I’ve had fun being a farmer. You’ve shown me a new meaning in the word” shows that through their connection Shane was able to discover something new about himself (102). Leaving through the CD store, I realized that from this performance I now know at least one of the CD’s in that store – Heidi Martin’s. Each experience and connection I make puts me one step closer to understanding the influences around me.