I am an amateur artist. I have a years-long history playing the violin, including a brief stint as a violin performance major (although I haven’t touched it on regular basis in several years, I can still get some notes out and remember proper technique), I’ve dabbled in music composition as recently as last year (mostly 12 tone, free improvisation and graphic notation music…students of music will know what I’m referring too) and this year have started really getting interested in poetry and photography.
Art to me is the portal into the spirit of another person. When I see an artistic photograph, read a poem or story, see a painting, etc, I can sense on some deep level the emotions and thoughts of that person. I connect with that person and that’s a wonderful experience. To think I’ve peered into the souls of people like Tchaikovsky, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Beethoven, Ravel, Cage and more either through listening or performing their works. Even sitting in my usual coffee shop and seeing the paintings on display I’ve gained more of a appreciation for as their style and choice of subject, etc all reflects upon them as a human being. Art is the act of taking mundane things and making something recognizable out it, but with a unique touch. Anyone can make random noise, but how about constructing a melody (although John Cage sort of brought to the limits what could be considered ‘music’ with pieces like “4 minutes, 33 seconds”, which did have an artistic statement, nevertheless)? How about taking some random words and making a story out of it? Or taking the world and capturing it in a photograph and video that speaks to people? Art is a form of spiritual communication as it connects us to each other at a higher level. I feel that way right now listening to beautiful jazz music on Pandora and I felt that way performing music by the common-practice classical masters. I think the arts shouldn’t be short-changed in education because it is literally the path to our souls and the souls of others and is an important expressive aspect of humanity and civilization. It can serve as communication between cultures and even governments hostile to each other. It can bring people together if we so choose.
If you have children, always support their artistic growth, it will serve them well in an otherwise stressful world where the soul is sometimes strangled to get through the daily routines of life. I started playing violin in 1993 (so now 20yrs) and performed in middle school, high school and two years at college-level and it opened up a whole new world to me. Although I don’t play nearly as much anymore (the last time I picked it up was in April; my last semi-professional performance with an orchestra was in 2004), I appreciate the arts in general a lot more than I probably would’ve otherwise. Enjoy the beauty of it all, or better yet, participate and learn an artistic skill. You’ll be very happy you did.