A reader’s perspective on the Joy and Heartbreak of Music
This month’s topic is a natural progression from last month’s blog when I hinted at my lack of musical prowess. As a teenager I really wanted to give the drums a try but life/sports got in the way along with an inherent lack of coordination when it comes to trying to do something completely different at the same time with all my limbs. Later it was the piano and like many it was on my list of things to learn. Well one thing led to another and four years into retirement I find myself slowly but surely becoming comfortable playing not a piano but the tenor saxophone in an intermediate (hobby) concert band setting that includes experiencing horrendous performance anxiety during our end of session concerts (which is saying something coming from a retired hockey goalie). A friend had told me about an adult music program here in town that is a member of The New Horizons International Music Association, that began in 1991 as a program for adult beginners at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. There are member bands all over the world, and as I mentioned last month we had the pleasure of playing with the member band from Dublin last June in a fundraiser for suicide prevention. WHICH WAS VERY COOL BTW.
Here after ten years, the local member band is actually now made up five concert and three jazz bands of varying skill levels ranging from beginner to advanced and musicians (over 270) ranging in age from their thirties to eighties. If there is a member band in your area and you’ve always wanted to learn how to play an instrument or want to get back into playing, I highly recommend the experience and the friendships you gain. It is never to late to start – really – I started off in the beginner program not knowing how to read music or how to play an instrument plus well, rhythm and counting and doing it all at the same time … yep, the first year (or two) was pretty painful for all concerned.
All this has given me such a huge appreciation for music, musicians and the dedication they bring to their craft often for so little funding. It’s a match made in heaven that combines my new and old loves.
I’ve mentioned in passing Symphony in Blue by MJ Duncan in a couple of previous blogs. It is definitely in my reread folder and I was pleasantly surprised this week with the release of a follow-up novel Pas de Deux, which follows Mallory the “jilted” girlfriend from Symphony in Blue after her return to London, England as leader/concert master of the London Symphony Orchestra. In Symphony in Blue we meet Gwen a cellist with the LA Philharmonic. She is in what is proving to be an unfulfilling relationship with another musician (Mallory) and meets Dana at a private engagement in Hawaii and after an ill advised one-night stand their paths cross again in LA. The subject matter is serious and well handled as Gwen grapples with the failing and doomed relationship, infidelity and doing the right thing after doing “the wrong thing”.
After reading the first novel I was left with wanting to know more about why Mallory was the way she was, I mean who would take someone like Gwen for granted like that? In the sequel we watch as the real and improved Mallory evolves. Again, like the first book there are supporting characters that made the story richer along with an adorable new love interest Addison (Addy). The musical references and settings in both books resonated with me as well as making me feel like I had my very own behind the scenes glimpses into concert and ballet life. The characters and storyline are well developed and Duncan’s novels are longer than one typically sees in Lesfic books, which is an added bonus. Now that I see the author has written this follow-up I’m keen to see a third book dealing with a couple of the characters we see in Pas de Deux.
Olivia Janae has written a two-part series The Loudest Silence (Part One) and Shades of Blue (Part Two) which I liken to where sound and silence collide and there be sparks. I can’t top the book synopsis so here you go, “Kate, an up and coming cellist, is new to Chicago and the ‘Windy City Chamber Ensemble’. During her first rehearsal, she is surprised and intrigued to meet Vivian Kensington, the formidable by reputation board president who also happens to be…deaf.”
The series is a glimpse into the world of music, single parenthood, disabilities, bullying, relationship building, and compromise. The character development is strong and storyline more than interesting. Just a joy to read this author’s two books and I hope there are more in the pipeline.
If you are looking to satisfy your music and reading fix at the same time you might also want to check out Karin Kallmaker’s Paperback Romance, Erica Abbot’s One Fine Day, Justine Saracen’s Mephisto Aria, and Alison Barnard’s A Walk in the Rain. And, if you know of any others – please share in the comments area – I’m always on the look out for a recommendation.
Just a note that I know rock/pop/musician/singer/band stories are probably more prevalent right now and they do deserve to be the subject of their own future blog.