Silence can be the loudest sound in the world, especially if you are longing to hear the next note, the next phrase, the next part of the story. And…“Silence is PART of the SONG!” (Dr. Barry Harris shouted this pearl of wisdom at his classroom full of singers a couple of weeks ago.) It is such a simple thing to remember. So true!
I saw a similar thought attributed to Thelonious Monk. He is recorded as saying, “Don’t play EVERYTHING (or every time); let some things GO BY. Some music [is] just IMAGINED. What you DON’T play can be more important than what you DO play.”
A few years ago I touched on this idea in an introductory verse I wrote for my song, “I Lied to Myself”. It begins, “There’s a limbo in this world where the silence is so loud….” This phrase was my attempt to capture in words the desire to hear someone speak to me again, and that feeling you get deep in your heart when you miss the sound of someone’s voice. The silence that summer was deafening, but this time of isolation also seemed to bring other parts of my life more sharply into focus. I was able to pinpoint what was really important to me. (I was also grateful my quiet reflections yielded a song that spoke to my truth.)
So, here’s to SILENCE! I dedicate this month to its beauty and perfection. I vow to listen more than I speak, to rest more than I resist, to learn more than I teach, and to better appreciate every refreshing pause that life offers.
As I sit here in Barry’s late night horns class (also known as “Improvisation class”) writing the last few lines of this post, I am happily surprised to hear him say: “The silence is full of sounds.” Wow, does he KNOW what I am writing about? And, yes! The silence is waiting for us to really listen.