Behind the Music– A Plea for Art

This week has been a busy one for the two of us. I’m getting ready for my senior clarinet recital in 3 weeks and looking for jobs, and Tony is working on several music projects, substitute teaching a college class, composing, teaching lessons, practicing… he does so much. We’re both looking forward to a fun Valentine’s Day weekend filled with late mornings, heart-shaped pancakes, seeing this movie, and hosting a Valentine’s Day party with friends.

Just this week Tony released this video of the University of Oregon’s Trumpet Ensemble playing an original work entitled “Extrapolation.” If you haven’t watched the video yet, I encourage you to do so. Sometimes music just feels inspiring. This is one of those times.

Why watch this video, you might ask? Well, because behind this video was a lot of hard work done by someone who truly cares about bringing music to the world.

A video so easily watched in a matter of minutes and clicked and shared in seconds, it seems so easy. Anyone with an Internet-capable device can make a video and post it on YouTube these days.

But what you haven’t seen are the many, many hours of work that Tony put into the making of this video. The nights he came home late for dinner because he was working on Finale in the computer lab. The several rehearsals he had with the University of Oregon’s Trumpet Studio. The couple of hours he spent on a Thursday morning preparing, recording, and filming the piece with the group. The morning a couple days ago when he scrambled to get ready for school and finish finalizing the video at the same time.

It seems trivial– all that hard work, just to post a video on YouTube? Just so some people can maybe click on the video and maybe listen for a couple of minutes?

But there’s more to it than that. Of course, there’s the physical piece he wrote for an ensemble, which is something he’ll always be able to have. And the opportunity for the Trumpet Ensemble to play an original work and to cooperate in a way that perhaps they haven’t had the chance to before.

But there’s still more to it.

This is art.

Tony doesn’t create art for himself, he creates art for you. He creates art for the world.

Art is hopeful. Art challenges. Art is every adjective there is. Art is life.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the daily junk of work, to-do lists, stressful relationships, the long lines at the grocery store, the traffic on the freeway… Art takes all of this junk, focuses it into one medium, and creates something that we can relate to, all while leaving us feeling something bigger than ourselves by the end of it.

Art humbles. Art creates change. Art brings beauty into an otherwise bleak world.

As you watch Tony’s video and listen to the music he composed performed by musicians, be mindful of the artistic effort. And next time you listen to music, look at a painting, read a book, or even read this blog post, I encourage you to think about why this specific form of art was created. What is the bigger picture? The more you question and the more you dig deep, the more meaningful art becomes. Gradually listening to music becomes less of a self-indulgent act and more of an act of compassion to truly understand another’s form of human expression. 

Tony and I are both artists. We are much different though. His self-expression is through playing the trumpet, composing music and the like, while mine comes through many forms like yoga, writing, and cooking. Playing music for me has become less a form of expression and more a craft I have desired to perfect. I’m working on making music more of a creative outlet for me, but it’s hard when it’s my college degree… Regardless, art is something we are all doing everyday whether we know it or not. Along with being more mindful of the art others are creating around you, I also encourage you to seek out your creative self. We aren’t all as great as Picasso or Beethoven, but we all have an inner-artist. What is it for you? What is your artistic outlet? Do you love to read? Well why not start writing a story. Do you love to listen to music? Why don’t you try to sing your favorite song. Dance around the room. Learn a few notes on the piano. Knit a scarf. Draw a picture of your cat. Plant a garden. Write a poem for your loved one. Paint a picture and send it to your best friend.

Art doesn’t have to be put on such a high pedestal. Yes, there will always be people who are amazing at creating. But art is an all-inclusive, no boundaries form of expression. I encourage you to be mindful of the art around you. You might be surprised at what you find and what you are capable of accomplishing. And above all, without passing judgement, encourage those around you to let their creative-side shine.

“Every child is an artist until he is told he isn’t one.” – John Lennon

I hope you have a wonderful, art-filled Valentine’s Day!

What is your creative outlet? Is there anything artistic that you have always wanted to learn? What is art to you? How do you support art? Let me know in the comments!