Flexibility Through Music

One of the skills I think is needed to be a performer is flexibility. Rigidity within any music scene will result in a lack of creativity. Knowing that music isn’t just one thing is vital. Moving forward with this in mind, I played multiple versions of the classrooms favorite song, ‘Yellow Submarine’.

H stopped when a new version came on and listened for a minute, looking up at the speaker that was near the ceiling. He said, “That’s a little bit different. It’s like the other submarine. It’s a little different.” 

Another version came on and N said, “What is that!?” H responded, “This is the studio one.” (We played a similar in in Studio the week before.)

A “kids” version came on and H laughed. “This one is kind of different, the kids are singing it. That’s a bit silly.”

The next version A said, “A kind of silly.” T said, “I hear a harmonica.” 

H put down his guitar and picked up a different one. “This one is smaller, it’s easier to hold.” He put it back down and picked up the other one. “This one has my symbol so it’s better.” (A piece on the guitar was in the shape of his classroom symbol).

O handed me a guitar and said, “Here, have this guitar.” I started to strum and O said, “No, that’s not how you strum a guitar.” H heard and walked over and turned some of the tuners on the guitar. He said, “I turn the pegs because you strum like a fiddle. You’re welcome. Strum now.” 

A new song came on and I asked, “What do you think of this version?”

H replied, “A version is like when my backpack is on my belly. That’s like this version, this submarine version.” 

Last time I tried to play a cover version of Yellow Submarine, I got a lot of pushback. I was told, “I want to hear the man’s voice.” or “No not this.” or “It’s not what I want.” I wonder what made them more open to the cover versions this time around. Maybe because we were actively engaged in talking about the differences. I especially enjoyed hearing H’s description of what a version is – it gives me a lot of insight into where he currently is in his thinking on flexibility and difference. 

I wonder what other ways music will enhance their flexibility and what other aspects of music require this skill. Areas I hope to challenge the performance group with coming up are: where music can be played (they seem to think height is important in defining a stage), what components need to be there to be considered “music” vs “noise”, and creating music without formal instruments. 

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