Day Ten: Music is International

It finally happened: I missed two days of my blogging challenge. It was inevitable, but I was hoping to get a little bit further into the challenge. I just became overwhelmingly tired and was very busy on Friday and very lazy on Saturday as a result and now it’s Sunday night and here I am.

On Friday I went with my friend Kozue and members of our gospel choir to a local day service to share music with the elderly patients who spend their days in the care of the facility. Kozue and I have played at two day services before now, but this was our first time including so many other people.

Kozue studied piano in college and is quite talented. I have played trombone casually since I was 11, and though I’m very out of practice I do still really enjoy playing. Playing music with people who speak a different language is very interesting. We may not have the same words for everything, but we can look at the notes on the page and produce the same results. When we can then take those results and create music that brings joy to elderly people spending their days in a home it’s a wonderful feeling.

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You can tell this photo was fake by how I’m holding the trombone.

We play many folk songs as well as a few other fun songs thrown in. We play a jazz version of 上を向いて歩こう (known as Sukiyaki in English because it was easier to say) as an encore that has improv sections for both of us and is a really fun way to end a show.

I enjoy being able to bring music to rooms of strangers in Japan. Part of my job here as I see it is promoting the internationalization of the community, and by sharing music together I feel that I am removing some of the barriers that exist between us. When we sing together, or share in the creation of the same piece of music, we are sharing something that cannot be replicated and cannot be created in any other way. I love sharing music with my students as a way to learn English, but I love creating music together even more because it teaches more than just language–it shows our shared connection through the very human experience of music.

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This action shot from an actual flip phone. 

Finding ways to create music with friends has made my second year in Japan a much more meaningful experience than my first. Joining the choir and volunteering with Kozue will surely be some of my greatest memories from my time here. Music will always be a part of my life. That was a commitment I made early in life and solidified by my commitment as a sister of Tau Beta Sigma. I hope that wherever I end up and whatever I end up doing there will always be a place with people for me to create music with because there is nothing else that can compare to the experience.

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