There are certain pieces of music that have resonated with me in particular along this journey with Elle. Somewhere Over the Rainbow and Fields of Gold are definitely in my top 5 list. But probably my favorite piece has no words at all and was composed by a man who walked the earth over three hundred years ago. You may have heard of him; Johann Sebastian Bach born March 31st 1685. What a timeless gift he has left behind for all of us 21 st century humans. Most of his music was composed for the piano which I happen to believe to be the most beautiful instrument to this day.
Since the age of 7, my mom shuttled me to ballet class several times per week. Most of the ballet schools I attended were in run down buildings with rickety wood floors, brick walls and lofted ceilings. Four days a week including Saturdays you would find me at class, perfecting my body alignment in tempo with all the greatest classical composers including Chopin, Mozart and Bach. In most ballet studios the music was compliments of a scratchy turn table however, by age 14, I had managed to be invited to take first position at the ballet barre at Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle, WA.
There were no turn tables to be found at PNB. Every class consisted of a retired professional dancer to provide precise instruction, a weathered older man or woman who had the gift of spontaneously matching the next exercise with the most beautiful piece of classical music, and 15 to 20 adolescent girls with hair pulled tight into a low bun, the class color leotard, pink tights and satin toe shoes. This is where my affinity for Bach ignited.
Fast forward 30 years. As a mother, one thing I have always tried to instill into my children is an appreciation for the the arts. This has not been an easy task for me as my husband is what I like to call a sports-a-holic. Not that he does not appreciate things outside of the Denver Broncos; it has just been a little bit of an extra challenge to take time out from our packed schedule of basketball, football, and soccer for the theater and the symphony. Plus it is not cheap for a family of 5 either. My answer to this challenge has been listening to classical music in my car while driving our kid’s to their activities whether they liked it or not. Of course Ellie always loved it, she is a lover of music, a musicophile.
One Sunday morning during what I like to call “church” the CBS Sunday morning show highlighted a woman, Simone Dinnerstein. Her story is quite amazing. She attended the Manhattan School of Music with some of the greatest pianists of our time and then went onto Juilliard, but dropped out and was written off in the world of classical piano. It was not until she was in her 30s and after becoming a mother herself, that she self – financed and released her recording of Bach’s most famous Goldberg Variations, BMV 988: Aria.. One of the most striking statements she made during her CBS Sunday morning interview, is how she attributed her experiences of becoming a mother to directly impacting the level of which she played her instrument. As if becoming a mother, and all that has meant to her, deeply and profoundly affected her ability to play at her highest level… and this is what launched her into the stratosphere with regard to her career.
Of course I immediately purchased her CD on Amazon and looked forward to the next opportunity when driving down Freya with kids in tow so that I could hear her gift first hand. And I did. One Fall morning after going through the drive thru to pick up my PSL at Starbucks, Amelia, Elle and Charlie all in the back seat of my ruby colored Honda Odyssey (yes I caved and drove a mini van but only for 4 years… ) I hit the play button. Her music first began to fill the space in our car and then began to work it’s way into my being. It is in the first piece of the Bach’s Goldberg Variation… which starts off slow, but steadily builds, takes unexpected and never ending turns, and still climbs but not too fast… and then starts the crescendo all over again in a different key. It is as if Bach was now trying another path in his life journey but never giving up in his strive toward creating something beautiful. Tears welled my eyes and I could feel the familiar tremble of my inner core. A bodily cue that something important is happening or about to happen for me in that moment of time “Are you crying momma ?” came a little voice from the back, it was Charlie. “No.” I replied trying to wipe my tears away and pull myself together. “Don’t cry momma., don’t be sad” he said. “I am not sad Charlie, I am actually just happy. This music we are listening to just reminds me so much of our life path here on earth. The ups and the downs, the twists and the turns, never giving up and always working toward creating something beautiful.” “Oh.” he said. “OK., I like this music.” He said. “Me too.” I replied.