Today my brother sent me a text telling me I should very much learn Beethoven’s Piano Sonata, No. 32 Op. 111, and that he wouldn’t hear any debate from me about it, and there was even a subtle threat that he had brotherly power to motivate me to get things done.
I opened the score and thumbed through a piano piece that spans almost 30 minutes. I saw the technical road I would have to be brave enough to embark down, and then I did something I wouldn’t normally do as a piano teacher and a piano learner. I shut the score. I stopped mapping the route. I let go of the drive to succeed and opened a softer desire to simply receive.
I decided that it was time to let in a little magic.
I did something I often forget to do when working on a new piece. I opened up my mind, spirit, and body to connect with this musical creation, instead of thinking only about how I could conquer it. I let myself receive the depths and grandeur of the music, in my cells, my heart, and something unnameable. And how long it has taken to prime these receptors in such a busy world…
I lay down on the couch and simply listened. I decided to connect with the music with the subtlety of my senses. I let my body feel the vibrations. I let the melodies and harmonies speak to something wordless within me. I let it whisper, shout, and play with me around the many moods of my human experience.
I made a conscious decision to slow down and receive Beethoven’s creation, without wondering what it would do for me personally to take it on, but what the music meant to the bigger picture–how his music connected me to the world of emotion, to storytelling, and to the heart of contrasting experience.
I let the music have its destiny, which was to be received; to time travel here, to reach me right now, and to be played upon the receptors of my senses.
I let his music paint in my awareness stormy declarations, transcendent moments of beauty and longing, and especially in Op. 111, I dare say, to tell me about arrival.
The story of one who has arrived and realizes that the journey was always about hearing the music along the way (even when he could literally no longer hear the music, as was the case for Beethoven when he wrote this piece), and that in the arrival, there is only this: time has passed, and if lucky enough, this passing has been described in some form of communication by the human who lived it, and received by another.
In Beethoven’s case, his wordless creation created to speak from something wordless in him, to something wordless in me. Something restless, something alive and breathing and moving, and very much desiring to arrive somewhere, without missing any of the grandest storms or most breathtaking shows of light along the way.
If I do decide to take this piece on, and add it to my repertoire, my intention will be to live with each measure of music as if in prayer, as if communing with our greatest human spirit. Let this connection lead me up the mountain to that exalted top, falling in love with the burning of my body and breath from the assent, remembering to stop to take in the views ever so slowly and so fully, to listen and receive with all of me.
My prayer is to open wide and feel my entire body resonating like a most perfect instrument, with the music that has always been seeking a place to land within me.