Silence is Golden

It’s been pretty quiet around Harmony Garden this week while we are in between sessions for many programs. I often wish for peace and quiet in my life, but this is bordering on too quiet! I’m just really excited to make music with everyone! Reminds me of choir or band as a kid where there were twenty-three measures of rests that I had to endure before I could join the music. That countdown was hard as a child. My mind sometimes would wander, and I’d lose count and miss my entrance. I often wondered, why the wait? Wouldn’t it be more fun if we just all got to play, all the time?  

Turns out, rests in music are actually super important. So important, music wouldn’t be music without them. Miles Davis once said, 

“In music, silence is more important than sound.” 

Silence is not just an annoying byproduct of making music, it is what makes music truly musical. When considering a favorite song, if all the pauses were removed it wouldn’t be recognizable. It would lack the feeling and charm that make it special. Those space-holders between phrases provide our heart a moment to feel, our lungs a chance to breathe, and our spirits the opportunity to connect. Well timed rests can also provide anticipation for the next notes to come, making them more enjoyable when they arrive. Just imagine Beethoven’s “Da-da-da-dum, Da-da-da-dum” (5th symphony) without any pauses! It wouldn’t be nearly as dramatic or fun. Intentional silence can truly be golden, even in music.

So what’s a musician to do in the rests? Certainly not lose count and focus like middle-school me! The rests are a great time to breathe – physically and mentally- and prepare for what comes next. That’s what I’m working on this week, breathing peace deep into my soul, and preparing for sessions with everyone in the weeks to come. I choose to embrace the silence as much as I do the music, for they are truly a part of each other.