Monday, July 30, 2012

The Impact of Giving

Play Me, I'm Yours
A lot has been happening lately, most of which has been good and I want to write about some of it. 

First, there is a really cool event happening around Salem. The event is sponsored by the Salem Chamber Orchestra and is called Play Me, I'm Yours. The event is ongoing through July 23rd. You can learn more about it here:

They have placed 11 pianos around town at various parks and street corners. One piano is even on the Union Street Walking Bridge. These pianos are left out for anyone to walk up and begin playing. I played my first today at the Minto-Brown dog park. My youngest daughter learned something new about me today; I used to know how to play piano. I played Open Arms, The Rose, some Chopsticks, a little of Für Elise and rounded things up with an untitled piece I wrote back in High School. My daughter looked at me like I was some sort of alien that replaced her dad, apparently she didn't know I knew how to play at one time. 

A better pianist than I
I played for about ten minutes and then moved over for someone more adept at tickling the ivories than I. My ivory ticklers have rusted over after twenty years of not playing.

The concept behind the Play Me campaign is stunningly simply yet so elegant in its delivery, very much a field a dreams without all the baseball references; if you build it, they will come. 

Every piano I have seen, which is only a small fraction of the pianos available, have had someone sitting at them, playing. Sometimes the person is playing alone, sometimes the person is playing to a gathering crowd. But the message for me is clear; Inspire others to share their talents and that inspiration will carry onward.

Strangers Sharing Beautiful Music
My daughter and I copped-a-squat as another lady took over the role of entertainer. We listened as she played Für Elise in its entirety from memory, yup no sheet music. It was magical and error free, unlike my previous rendition.

She moved on to a rather haunting tune I did not know, but loved, from a composer unknown to me. It was moving, melodic and mesmerizing.  After she finished the two songs, she got up and moved on with her dog, who wasn't too patient with her while she played, to do what they came to do; play in the park with other dogs. Their stop at the piano was spontaneous, much like ours, but it was moving. Sharing music with complete strangers for nothing more than the shear joy of playing music is what it was about. Thank you unknown lady and your 12 year old chocolate colored dog. You brought some joy and inspiration to this man, and his eleven year old daughter.

Looks out of place, but sounds right at home
My daughter and I walked the dog walking loop.

We talked about how things were with her and how she was going coping with the concept that her older sister wouldn't be in the same school as her. 

Her answers were exactly what I expected, short and to the point, but I allowed her the time to communicate her joy, her angst and even her middle ground stance on her feelings about things. I counselled her on how to cope and how to see negative things in a more positive light, coaching that was likely more aimed at myself than her. I encouraged her to pursue the things she was excited about. And then the walk was over. 

We stopped back at the piano and enjoyed another round of tunes before heading back home.

A Beautiful Summer Day at Minto-Brown Park
 As I listened to the musical styling of complete strangers I was able to reflect on a recent decision made for my photography club to withdraw from the State Fair. My organization has been a part of the State Fair's photography exhibit for the last two years and was slated to be a part of it this year, until management at the fair made a series of what I believe are bad decisions and subsequent fumbles. I have been personally/professionally involved with the Fair's Photo Exhibit as well; as a judge of the Student/Youth division, a staff member, a presenter and an exhibitor as well. 

So many changes are happening at the fair in the name of budget cuts; unfair things that will end up hurting an aspect of what makes a State Fair a State Fair and not just another carnival rolling into town. It all comes down to your local senate and house representatives making cuts everywhere and even threatening to cut the fair's budget completely which means closing the fair. It doesn't help that that the State Parks department doesn't even like owning the fair; something tossed in their laps by the same Senators and House Reps a few years back.

One of the ways giving can impact you is when the opportunity is removed. When all you want to do is give, but there is nobody willing to receive it; that is difficult for me. I don't have a huge ego, but when I say I want to help and the response is lackadaisical, I move on to find an organization that will snatch me up and put me to work. I like to give for the simple act of giving. I don't need recognition or pats on the back. I do it because at my core I want to make the world a better place. I can do that by giving. But if my offer to help is not received and put into action I am left feeling disappointed.

The decision for our organization to withdraw from the fair was not made lightly and without deep discussion of the facts and possible alternatives. After explaining the situation to the group's leadership and debating the weight of the situation, a unanimous vote was had that it was in the best interest of our organization to withdraw and apply our energies elsewhere. So now we are left with a hole that needs filled and the group's leadership has stepped up to offer some amazing ideas. So we will see what we can do to fill that hole for our group, for the community. Much like the Play Me, I'm Yours event, we are looking to open the door of opportunity for others to share their beautiful talents with the community if for nothing else, to make a complete stranger's day a little brighter.

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