Bacon and I took the girls out of school last week to attend a few sessions of the Menuhin Competition, a violin competition for prodigies from all over the world. This is the first time it’s ever been held in North America. Our good luck landed the competition a short trip up the road in Austin. I’m not sure who got the most out of the day. Coco is a musician, but we were all inspired.
We listened to a fantastic chamber orchestra made up of grad students, college professors, and one visiting scholar. David Kim is the Concertmaster for the Philadelphia Orchestra. Later, we watched him give a master class to young musicians competing in the competition.
This was supposed to be boring stuff to those of us not schooled in strings. It started out to be. Cherry read a book. Bacon slumped in his chair. I studied Coco, our violinist, and tried to measure the benefit of this educational experience by how she perched on the edge of her chair. Then, the Master said something that made us all sit up.
After listening to a brilliant thirteen-year-old, he advised him to practice living. Get out of the rehearsal hall. Read great books. See great art. Fall in love. Travel. He was already a good violinist, but these things would make him a brilliant musician.
Face palm. Head desk. Whatever the catchphrase for epiphany is this week. The words slayed me. This was why we skipped school, to find a way to be better at life.
Later at home, Bacon and the girls dove into books, but I’m stubborn and somewhat obtuse. I slipped back into the habit of reading the news on the web, so much minutia that’s been chopped, filtered, and homogenized. Instead of chunking up my creative juices by reading something solid, I ran my brain through a whirling blender of nothing. I liquified the good I’d done for myself.
I’ve been watching, reading, and imitating everyone else’s reaction to the world instead of searching out primary sources and drawing my own conclusions. Why read about life on Huffington Post when I can listen to Vivaldi or study a sculpture by Rodin, or watch my children read great books in my own living room?