One of my missions in life is to inspire creativity in others. I can’t force this on anyone, or even expect it to happen. I don’t have a magic formula. All I can do is be there, and wait and hope. I could say the same thing about my own writing, whether music or words. I can’t force it to happen, or know whether I will be happy with what comes out that particular moment. I don’t have a magic formula. All I can do is be there, ready with paper and pencil, and wait and hope.
My cellist friend Ingrid and I took our chances a few months ago, hoping to inspire students at the Indiana School for the Blind in their artistic endeavors. Our plan: To perform my music during their art classes and talk about where my inspirations come from, to talk about our instruments and why we chose them, and to wait and hope. The art teacher also had a plan: To help the students create tiles out of clay, with their own unique patterns and textures, that he would weave together into a large work of art, to be installed permanently on the campus. (How cool is that!)
About midway through the first day, the principal stopped by and asked, “Is it making any difference?” I said that this was hard for me to answer, since I had never watched the students in art class when they didn’t have a live musical performance to (possibly) inspire them as they worked. When I posed the question to the art teachers, they said that the students usually have trouble getting started on a project. They wave their hands and call out for help at every point along the way. But with us present, the teachers were amazed at how well the students were able to work independently. They sat down and dug their hands in and worked it!
I was particularly amazed with the profound thoughts the students shared with me about music. I wish I could remember the exact words he used, when one particular 16-year-old boy talked deeply about how much music meant to him. Many of the students came forward to put their clay-caked hands on the instruments. We loved seeing the delight in their faces while they plucked the strings and caressed the keys.
We don’t really know what difference we made that week. We don’t know if some students went home that day and wrote poetry, or improvised music, or used their imaginations in a different, more imaginative way. But we came, we waited, we hoped and we played the music. And we look forward to seeing the culmination of their work on the campus sometime this fall.
June 20, 2012