The Power of Music

As you may know, I’ve challenged myself to post in my blog once a month for six months straight, and I’m happy to report that so far, so good! This is my third post in three months and I’m feeling good about meeting this goal so far.

A few weeks ago, I went down to Knoxville with my fabulous girlfriend Alicia to celebrate her birthday. While we were there, I took her to see the comedian Jo Koy at the stunning Tennessee Theatre in downtown Knoxville. If you have never been to the Tennessee Theatre, it’s worth checking out. Built in 1928, it was originally a movie theatre but after a renovation in the early 2000’s is now a premiere performing arts center, home of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra and several other arts organizations.

The show by Jo Koy was hilarious and we had a fantastic time. However, what struck me is what happened during the last 15-20 minutes of the show. Jo had a DJ with him that performed music for his entrance and assisted with small bits throughout his set. At the end of his performance, Jo was talking about the relative age of the crowd; his joke was that the room seemed to be filled with 40 somethings who had teenagers at home, which is a big theme in his comedy.

Jo related about how he started out his career as a radio DJ and then broke into comedy. One of the genres of music that he is very passionate about is 90’s R&B because he spent a lot of time playing that music as a DJ. It’s not a genre that I’m too familiar with, but I can understand the appeal.

This all culminated with Jo remarking that he felt that the crowd was hip enough to know all the songs from that era, and he encouraged the DJ to play bits of familiar hits and challenged the audience to see if they could sing along. Jo would give a signal and the DJ would cut the music, allowing the crowd to finish the verse or lyric, which they did every time. Jo was astonished (or at least he seemed that way) that the audience could match the songs and challenged the DJ to get more and more obscure with the selections and the people at the Tennessee Theatre that night did not disappoint, matching with the song selection each and every time.

What struck me was the sheer joy of simple music-making during this comedy show. No one in the theater was self-conscious about their singing and the obvious joy that it was creating was almost palpable. Sometimes as professional musicians, it’s easy to lose that feeling of joy at making music, and that can be a real liability to the craft. We sometimes spend too much time with analysis and synthesis and forget why we got into this business in the first place. I know that I do. It was nice to have this reminder about the joy of music during a non-musical performance. Take some time to enjoy the simple pleasure of making music!

3 thoughts on “The Power of Music”

  1. Yes! Well-paid! We are so often conditioned, as trained musicians, that the goal is perfection. And in the pursuit of that impossible goal, we lose the joy that inspires us to perform creatively. I now tell my students that the goal is excellence, as opposed to perfection.

    1. Agreed. That’s so important for students and really everyone to hear! Humans are inherently music-making beings and shouldn’t feel like they’re not “good enough” to participate musically. Thanks for reading and responding!

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