|You're never too old ... or too young... to enjoy music.|
The enjoyment of music respects no boundaries; it's pretty much universal. No age limit, either. Even newborn infants respond to music, and most of us continue to respond to it until we draw our very last breath.
Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without. [Confucius]
It can be uplifting, rousing, soothing, sublime, or profane, and has the uncanny ability to reach inside our hearts to touch us on a primal level. As Leo Tolstoy said, Music is the shorthand of emotion.
Remember the song My Way? Written by Paul Anka, and originally performed by Frank Sinatra, it was an okay song. Not the best, not the worst, but in the hands of violinist Andre Rieu, this ordinary tune becomes sublime:
No doubt, Mr. Rieu is a talented musician who makes magnificent sounds come out of that priceless instrument of his. My guess is he came from a comfortable background and benefited from a good education. Maybe a private tutor and top-notch music teachers. Perhaps not, but that's my guess.
The question is: How can a child who's mired in abject poverty make music? Time for a little story...
Just outside Ascuncion, Paraguay's capital city, lies one of the largest landfills in Latin America. That's also where 25,000 people live in the slum city of Cateura. Day after day, tons of garbage get added to the landfill, and day after day, the men, women, and children of Cateura traverse mountains of garbage, and sift through it for whatever they can salvage. For that is the story of their survival: they eke out a living by recycling garbage from that landfill.
And yet... and yet... orchestral music is alive and well in the slum of Cateura. In the midst of crippling poverty, there are instruments for the children to play... instruments fashioned from salvaged garbage. Empty oil drums become cellos and violins; water pipes and spoons become flutes; packing crates become guitars; and bottle caps, buttons, and spoons turn a pipe into a clarinet. Garbage becomes instruments of hope.
Play the music, not the instrument. [unknown origin]
Care to witness a musical miracle?
Pretty amazing, huh? Favio Chavez, director of Cateura's Landfill Harmonic Orchestra, said, The world sends us garbage. We send back music. And tell ya what, when those youngsters play My Way, the song gains new meaning. Their way, indeed...
Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life. [Berthold Auerbach]
Music is moonlight in the gloomy side of life. [Jean Paul Richter]
Music in the soul can be heard by the universe. [Lao Tzu]
The whole universe may not hear their music, but thanks to donations from all over the world, these children of hope will be the subject of a documentary next year. They'll also be touring the United States... and playing their unique instruments that were built with garbage, hope, and a lot of love.
Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world. [Martin Luther]
Until next time, take care of yourselves. And each other.
[Images courtesy of morguefile]