On teaching artistry
Over the next few weeks, I'll be publishing features of artists I've interviewed. I'm so excited for you to learn about them and their work!
But for now, here's a brief reflection on teaching artistry, and what it can look like today.
I found one of my favorite definitions of teaching artistry on oboist Alaina Chester’s blog: a teaching artist bridges the gap between her art and her community.
Right now, my community is caught in the middle of a pandemic, flooded with news about the numbers of cases and deaths rising around us.
Recently, I’ve taken heart from musicians sharing videos of their playing, some with a few words of reflection. (Here's one of my favorite videos of this by principal flutist of the Seattle Symphony, Demarre McGill)
To me, this is teaching artistry — sharing their music with us offstage, in their homes, unaccompanied and vulnerable about how they’re navigating the anxiety, fear, and isolation.
Their gesture speaks through the absence of a powerful element — sharing this experience in real time and space. I miss this dearly. Recordings of my playing, not deepened harmonically or by other timbres, feel bland. But it’s how I can create and share music with my community during this time.
In a way, the loneliness of my playing, and of every musician sharing their music online these days, speaks for itself.
As for words, if I were to share how I'm navigating this crisis, the only way I can be honest is through my faith. A couple days ago was March 25th, traditionally the day of the Crucifixion and Death of Christ. So I decided to record parts of an aria from Bach’s St. Matthew’s Passion, Aus Liebe will mein Heiland sterben.
From German, the text of Aus liebe translates to:
Out of love my Savior wants to die,
He knows nothing of a single sin;
So that the eternal destruction
And the punishment of judgment
Would not remain upon my soul.
(translation from Emmanuel Music)
The only way I can make sense of tragedy, both now and before the pandemic, is my belief in this vast Love that defeated Death by taking on our suffering and dying, freeing us for life beyond a world accustomed to death.
As for the music — it’s only me playing (and not quite to win any auditions), but perhaps you can imagine low, oboe-like sounds playing minor chords beneath, and the soprano singing the text above in German.
But in a way, the loneliness of my playing, and of every musician sharing their music online these days, speaks for itself.
On a quirky note, this is a screenshot because every time I moved in the video, you could see my laundry. (The perils of recording in a studio apartment!)
Lastly, here is a quote I found inspiring from Toni Morrison's novel, Beloved:
In that bower, Denver's imagination produced its own hunger and its own food, which she badly needed, because loneliness wore her out. Wore her out. Veiled and protected by the live green walls, she felt ripe and clear, and salvation was as easy as a wish.
As we look for alternative ways to connect, loneliness can be a time of creativity and growth.