When I think about the things that have been given to me over the course of my life, I’m struck with the realization that I’ve forgotten the vast majority–I mean the vast majority–of those them.
I don’t know what I got for my 11th birthday. No clue. Honestly, I’m not sure I remember everything I was given for my 56th birthday, and that was just last month.
Christmas of 2006? I’ll bite…what?
Graduation gifts? It’s safe to say someone gave me money (well, for high school), but I don’t remember anything about it. Wedding gifts? I remember a few. Fathers Day? I’m sorry, but no.
I don’t think I’m alone here. I mean, we’re given stuff all the time. We receive it, we’re thankful for it, and then we let it go. I don’t remember all that I’ve given, either. We get, we give, and most of the time we forget. For better or worse.
The other day, though, I was struck by the awesomeness of one of the things I’ve been given. Truth be told, I don’t remember the circumstances of the giving, or even to whom I owe the earliest thanks. I just remember the gift, and how appreciative I am for it.
It came to my mind while I was standing in a music store late last week. I was shopping for a MIDI controller. Why I was shopping for a MIDI controller is another story, but that’s what I was doing. (For those who might not know, a MIDI controller is–in essence–a keyboard for a computer. A keyboard that looks and functions like a piano keyboard, not a computer keyboard. It’s used to input data such as notes and triggers for electronic music.)
Now, I’m not a piano player, and the only claim I have to being a keyboardist is the ability to type with all ten fingers, even though my left thumb is only used rarely. That said, as I was testing the controller (a mere formality, since I’m only getting started with electronic music), I played a few chords in the key of C, specifically the C, F, and G chords.
Why those chords? Well, they don’t require me to use the black keys, and they’re usually some of the first chords a beginner learns on the piano. Also, I knew that the “I, IV, and V” chords (Roman numerals) are the primary chords in any key, and I knew that those major chords are made of the up of the 1st, 3rd, and 5th notes in the major scale based on any given note.
Wow, even though that was basic stuff, it sounded complicated. I know the theory, but it was still kind of tough to put into words.
The thing is, though, that I can take that knowledge, and use it to pick up and play (though not necessarily well) any instrument in that music store. Guitars, bass guitars, ukuleles, mandolins, violins, and anything with a keyboard: I can play them, albeit with very limited proficiency.
For those who know about such things, you of course noticed that I didn’t say anything about brass or woodwind instruments. Those things are dark magic, and I’m clueless.
Why can I play all of those instruments? Because I was given the gift of music, all those years ago. The story is fuzzy, at best, but at some point I was given the knowledge of how music works and the opportunity to put what I learned into action.
And I am now, and always will be, grateful.
For me, the gift of music is up there with reading and the ability to perform basic mathematical operations (and woodworking–I’m thankful for that, too). I don’t use it every day, but it’s there when I want it or need it.
To my folks for the support, my teachers, and all of the authors who wrote the countless books and articles I’ve read: Thank you!