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I was about nine when I watched the PBS special “Yanni: Live at the Acropolis” with my extended family. My parents said Yanni was a piano virtuoso, for whatever that was worth to a nine year older. As I awaited in ‘enthusiastic anticipation’, our virtuoso finally came out-neatly tamed afro, ‘pizzeria man’ moustache, and white tuxedo-assuming the piano in a decrescendo of the uproarious applause marking his antecedent arrival. “Good music” my uncle critiqued; I agreed, nodding my head vigorously as I examined the interwoven fibers of my couch seat. It was good music though, and the aggressive verve of the second piece compelled me to look up-there was Yanni, but what had happened to him? He slammed on the keys, cocked his head back slowly, closed his eyes, smiled, jolted his head forward creasing his eyebrows angrily, and repeated this cycle with a variation of facial disfigurations. Did he have Parkinson’s or was he simply suffering a temporary spasm attack? The very thought of this caused me to laugh boorishly; I attempted to explain my apparently unappreciated conduct between my cackles. Disappointed, my mother frowned at me saying, “It’s because he feels with the music”. Never would a comment affect me as this one did.
Eight years later, I am a near veteran of my high school wind ensemble. I am an alto saxophonist. I am a musician. I am obsessed with music. I hear it in my thoughts, during exams, and in my attempts to sleep. When I am far from my saxophone, I position fingerings in the air and simulate the anticipated notes in my mind. I sing harmonies in my head, and conduct the orchestra that inhabits my being in front of the mirror with a baton. When I play a piece with an ensemble, it possesses me- I am an acquiescing host. For a day, I am Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition”, I become Holst’s “First Suite”. I am propelled into a state of hypnotic ecstasy. I speak in key signatures and dynamics, and think in articulation and movements. The passion that I have for music, the discipline and humility it has taught me, the appreciation for purpose and cooperation it has granted me, and the resilience it has empowered me with are irreplaceable.
How fortunate I am to be given the opportunity to allow music satiate my soul and tantalize my senses. Finally, I understand the piano virtuoso Yanni that the callow me mocked. Finally, I am able to begin to perceive the grand implications of his awesome gift. Finally, I am able to feel music, and no greater is there such a rapture.
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