As I've mentioned in previous posts, sometimes the best lessons I receive are from students. Hallie Golden, one of my most dedicated pupils, suggested we head on over to Ronald McDonald House to perform for youngsters and family members undergoing treatment during the dinner hour. My daughter Sarah was excited to join us, viola in hand. Hallie, Sarah and I found ourselves in the midst of a most appreciative and warm audience bustling about in the RMH cafeteria.
In the film "A Portrait" of violinist Hilary Hahn, she explores the calming effect baroque music has—J.S. Bach in particular—on children. As Hallie, Sarah and I performed works by Telemann, Corelli, and Bach, our young audience members wandered within inches of us to watch and listen, transfixed by our playing, and bursting with questions. It's unfortunate that many musicians feel the need to dummy down to children by performing pop tunes when really, if given a chance, children's ears and imagination are receptive to beautiful classics. While packing up my violin and viola after an hour's worth of playing, I realized the benefit I reaped from my appreciative, new audience. I'm beginning to feel purposeful in ways I never imagined, as if a whole new me is emerging. I find myself surrounded by people with positive energy, rather than being in the company of disgruntled orchestra musicians and sadistic bosses.
A few of our young listeners voiced an interest in taking violin lessons. From the look on their faces, and the enthusiasm they conveyed, I wouldn't mind teaching them. My daughter and I will return to Ronald McDonald House along with other Talvi Studio musicians, with pleasure. As Daniel Barenboim writes in "Music Quickens Time": When you teach, you learn and when you give, you receive.