DAMTA President’s Message
Nov. 2016
In Defense of Emotion
I know I’m a bit late with this month’s message, but I’m glad I waited. Yesterday we had a fall course presentation by Alejandro Cremaschi. He was telling us about Spanish and Latin American music, which is clearly dear to his heart. He played several examples for us, and I was struck by the joy on his face as he played. At one point in the lecture, he was showing us how when you played a certain passage, if you just did it metronomically correct, you miss the point! It had to be felt and played as if you were singing with deep emotion. The difference was night and day.
It got me thinking. Isn’t emotion the whole point in music? In life? What do we value the most about anything? The way it makes us feel. What if I told you that you could have millions of dollars, a beautiful house, the mate of your dreams and your dream job, but you would be miserable once you had all of it? It would seem like a cruel joke, because the only reason we want anything is that we imagine it will make us feel better. That it will make us feel happier.
Emotion is the juice of life. And as musicians we have access to an extremely powerful well of emotion; music! All the technique, practice, theory, discipline, etc. is in service of communicating emotion. And since feeling is the essence of life, the better you get at feeling and expressing emotion, the more alive you are!
My message this month is this: Don’t undervalue the service you provide as a music teacher. You are giving your students the opportunity to feel and express emotion in a more profound way than most people have access to. This is an extremely big deal. Of course, it’s hard. Initially there’s a lot of attention to technique, so it’s easy to lose sight of the emotion. But don’t! Even Twinkle Twinkle Little Star has an emotion behind it. Get into it. When you teach your students to feel emotion through music, you are giving them the key to a deeper, more fulfilling life. If a person has a song she finds uplifting, playing it will be more therapeutic than a whole bottle of anti-depressants! (And a lot healthier!)
Music is the fire of life. You’re a music teacher. Go light up the world!

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