Thursday, October 30, 2008

Our first encounter

Like many others before me, my first introduction to Mr. Gould was through his 1981 Goldberg Variations. Although I would never claim to be a musician, I do feel that I know the basics and have definitely developed an appreciation over the years. As a child, my mother tried to force- feed piano lessons to me. First, we tried Suzuki lessons. I mastered the Twinkles but in the end, it always came down to my lack of will to practice. I already had such a busy schedule to maintain consisting of playing with the barn cats, swimming in the pool or climbing apple trees! My mother was persistent (or perhaps a little blinded by love). She thought to herself, "It could not possibly be Liz. It must be the lessons." So we switched to the Conservatory way. While I still did not enjoy spending my afternoons practicing, I was a good daughter and withstood for about a year.

My piano career ended with the local music festival. I have vivid childhood memories of practicing my little heart out, preparing for the big day. My debut piece was called "Mixed Up Zoo." I am still traumatized 13 years later. "My cow goes meeeeow but I don't think that's right..." Long story short, I lost the competition and retired from piano forever. Looking back, I like to soothe my burnt ego by thinking of myself as practicing the ideals of Mr. Gould at the tender age of eleven. 

Music was not completely lost on me. Every summer, I looked forward to attending the Kincardine Summer Music Festival. I began to play the trumpet in grade six (even got back on the old music festival horse!). In high school, I switched to French Horn for logistical reasons. There were too many trumpet players and too few chairs, stands and instruments. Plus I didn't think I had the trumpet player personality. I was better suited to the horn.  After I graduated, I stopped playing. Never fear, returning to my beloved French horn (or perhaps learning to play the cello) is on my forever growing to-do list. 

Like I said, I am not a musician by any means, but I do have a general background. After accepting the job at the Foundation, I immediately took a trip to my local iTunes store and purchased the Goldberg Variations. I listened to the album carefully from start to finish.

Mr. Gould shared something very special with me. The album was almost reminiscent to my life. I am me. I play the same baseline but the outcome is somehow always varied and full of surprise. A series of highs and lows. Sometimes jovial, sometimes sad. Sometimes fast, sometimes slow. Sometimes playful, sometimes stern. Sometimes full, sometimes lonely. But in the end, in life and the Goldberg Variations, it all comes full circle. 

I was unaware of Mr. Gould's tendency to sing along while playing. It took me a few listens to even notice. Mr. Gould was different. It was all so very intriguing. It was all so delightfully human. I can understand why Mr. Gould loved the Goldberg Variations. 

I am left with a smile. How beautiful! Mr. Gould lived his music. 

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