Category Archives: Grace

More Than Performance: Amazing Grace

There once was a violin.  It was tightly gripped by a frustrated 14 year old, who  was playing Vivaldi’s Concerto in A Minor.  He had practiced this song over and over to get it right.  In his practice, he would play and stop.  Then, he’d look back at the music to find  see his mistakes and try to fix the errors.  He didn’t really like the practice, but by doing this, he had eliminated most all of the mistakes.   If he was careful, he could make it through without any of the feared mess-ups.  Then, the day arrived.  He was to play before an important violin teacher in Birmingham at a special Suzuki meeting.  So, he played.  He didn’t make any mistakes.  Then, just as he was finishing, and as the antique wood still pressed into his meaty shoulder, the instructor said, “You should play this harder.  You’re a strong looking boy.  Why aren’t you playing with more feeling?”  They didn’t really love his playing that day.  This was the last time he would really play much classical violin music for quite some time.

There once was another violin.  It was held lovingly by a plump 8 year old as he played the most free form Alabama improve Japan has ever witnessed.  He had just been told that there was a special program being filmed for the Suzuki organization in Japan.  They were interested in what Americans were doing with their method for learning music.  His teacher, who was a genius with kids, had encouraged him to learn to improvise.   She wanted him to learn to have fun with it.  And, he did.  Sometimes, his parents would have tell him to go to bed at night because he would lose track of time, playing for the sheer joy of it.  Enthusiasm was not lacking, and when he was asked to play for the Japanese TV program, he let fly a version of Amazing Grace that was something you wouldn’t soon forget.   They loved it.   And, he played the violin, and he improvised for many years to come.

What was the difference?

One was done out of fun, the other out of fear.

One was done out of love, the other out of duty.

Let me ask you this one question:  Which one do you want to be? Well, of course, you want to be have joy, fun, and love, right?

 The question, then is, how do I do that?

Think about the little boy.  It’s about really getting into the song, into the music.   It’s about getting into the story that can become the music of our lives.  And, there is a story that you need to hear.  There is a story in which you can live.

It turns out that story is all about Amazing Grace.