Switched Off Bach

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Apr 19th, 2011
Mel
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Johann_Sebastian_Bach_1746Switched Off Bach

 

Recently, I thought I lost my flute and piccolo. I had put it away so it would not get stolen. Strangers were to come to my place to do some green screen video work, and I felt the need to “hide” my instruments. I guess I hid them too well, as I could not find my cherished babies anywhere. I was convinced they had been stolen. When my family members pointed out that I was being irrational, and that a thief would certainly pilfer our laptops and video cameras, and not go looking for my flute and picc, I decided to search again.

 

I must point out that I was not frantic because I needed to go play a gig. In fact, I have not played professionally for a decade. It wasn’t because of their value, although I did go on about how much it would cost to replace them. The issue here was sentiment. They represent years of my life and a lost career. Years spent alone, practicing in a small room, missing out on normal college fun. Years of rehearsals, auditions, and recording sessions too many to count. Years of teaching and performing. Musical ink running through my veins, creating deep tattoos on my soul.

 

Even those who actually know me, may not know that I had major neck surgery a while back. It left me with nerve damage in my right hand and arm, and initiated a journey of personal and professional change. I did not choose to leave a career in music. The decision was made for me, by life, and its certain uncertainty.

 

As a young child, I was surrounded by music. My mother toted me with her to symphony concerts and operas. My sisters were always playing the piano, singing, and listening to endless stacks of records. Too young to take piano lessons, I sat down at the piano, took out my sister’s old lesson books, and taught myself how to read music. I was fortunate to have started reading books at age 3, so why not just learn to play on my own?

 

I eventually took lessons, and fell in love with “Switched On Bach”, Wendy (Walter) Carlos’s album of music, performed on the Moog synthesizer. I was entranced by the sounds, and determined to learn every Bach 2-Part Invention. I eventually did that, and quite a few other Bach pieces.

 

One day, I heard the pretty sounds of another instrument. The flute. It beckoned to me, and replaced the piano as my muse. I spent the next 20+ years dedicated to that silver stick, until one day, it betrayed me. Not intentionally, mind you, but by proxy. Wear and tear on my neck. Too much dedication on my part. Guilt by association.

 

I am not going to say that it was easy to adjust. Turning amateur and eventually leaving the profession were tough decisions. Fortunately, I have always loved to write, and spent many years doing so for my own pleasure. Family members had encouraged me to write a book, but I never had the confidence to actually do it.

 

Along the way, I developed the ability to write for video productions, and learned how to work a camera, set up lighting, and how to direct and produce. It allows me to make a modest living, quite different from my days in the music business, but one that allows me to be creative. I write out of love, and on my own terms. (At least that’s how it is for now.)

 

My Bach may be “switched off”, but will always remain, a part of my life, and etched into my soul. And, just so you know, my dear musician friends, I still play my flute every once in a while, especially after it has gone missing. It’s for my own personal release, and always includes Mr. J.S. Bach, and a few other old, dear friends.

My Inspiration to Learn Bach

 

 

 

 

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