I have three jobs this summer as I write my Diss. They are all part-time with odd hours, challenging but not cumbersome, and good pay for the time spent. One is a job as Music Director of a church in South Buffalo, the church I grew up in. As with most urban churches, its membership has dwindled and every Sunday I look out into the congregation and see very few people in my age demographic that attend anymore. When I was little, there was a whole slew of us. Now, it's a lot of hard work from a lot of hard workers dedicated to keeping this beautiful building used as it was designed.
This morning I had to lead my first Memorial service for the death of an 89-year old man, George, nicknamed "Bud." He was one helluva guy. I remember him fondly as do the many many many people in church this morning to share his memory and celebrate his life. Good story: after surviving Pearl Harbor and retiring from advertising, Bud decided to learn Judo and starting kicking all the young whippersnappers' asses in various tournaments around here. No joke. His handshake could crack your fingers into tiny bits.
Anyway, it was an interesting experience since I was there for "work." I was holding steady (nerves kicked in right before it began...there had to be, like, 300 people there...) until the end after I played "Eternal Father," the Navy Hymn in his honor. Then, two Naval Officers processed down the aisle, unfolded the flag and opened it wide up front. Then, another Officer came into the back doorway in the back and started playing "Taps." Holy waterworks. It was astonishing in its power. Not a dry eye in the House. THEN, they presented his flag to his wife and son. Man, oh man.
There are many theories about cognition and music, about how music affects us and what triggers various responses and behaviors. I am thinking about them now. I was not in the Navy, but I know the history of Pearl Harbor and Bud's life and what our military history in our country says about the people in this country (and around the world). "Taps" penetrated not because it was about Bud necessarily but because it is a symbol, an object, and a living and breathing one. It's part of the goo that keeps us all together and part of something bigger, maybe. It's performance speaks in ways where other kinds of language fails. It was very humbling.
Probably not a lot of writing going on today. I have piano students in two hours (job #2) and really feel like I need a drink. At least the sun is coming out (it's 55 degrees right now). Life goes on.