Dance Until You Find Yourself at the Center

Greetings of the Winter Solstice 2023!

I must be the luckiest soul alive!  Seated right here in the midst of a beautiful tapestry of humanity playing a lovely Steinway piano during Bellevue Square's seasonal cultural celebrations!  Whether our traditions are called Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, Dia de los Muertos, Halloween, Diwali or the Chinese New Year / Spring Festival, a myriad of Pacific Northwest peoples and cultures are honored at Bellevue Square all throughout the year. 

From behind the keys, I can see from the faces around me that cultural recognition makes people happy, makes kids want to jump around on their toes to take it all in, and inspires families to sometimes dress in colorful traditional costume, which I find especially wonderful.   As a musician I am able to connect with souls from all over the world who become friends through music and a shared smile.  How lucky is that?   

Today, Italian singer extraordinaire Rob Porcaro stopped by the piano and gave us a few Christmas numbers in his lush tenor voice with the gorgeous vibrato.  We had fun figuring out which holiday tunes and keys to play in and he quickly garnered an appreciative audience of mostly women.  Good going, Rob!  Rob’s trio can be heard at Pizzuto’s Italian Restaurant in Seattle.

For Diwali, I attempted to learn Jana Mana Gana, the national anthem of India.  But try as I might, after listening to the lyrics over and over, it was obvious that the inflections and rhythm of the language didn't match the rhythm of the notes written on my sheet music.  Hmmm ... not as easy as I thought it would be.  So rather than playing the song badly and embarrassing myself, I played the beautiful Persian song Golden Dreams with its repetitious ragas.  As far as the former, more practice is in order!

And if it weren’t for my 83-year old Taiwanese cellist piano student, whom I adore, I wouldn’t be playing the touching song “The Moon Represents My Heart.”  This 1972 beloved classic was sung in Mandarin Chinese by Teresa Tang, and lives up to its reputation, as it never fails to draw Asian-Americans of all ages.   Elders are magnetically drawn to the piano with tears in their eyes when they hear it.  Younger generations who recognize the melody exclaim, “My parents (or grandparents) played this song all the time!”  And they lovingly sing the melody to their babies, a musical tradition being passed on to a new generation in real time.

It's simply joyous when people walk by and spontaneously stop to sing a portion of a song or even the whole tune.  Or dance!  Today a woman grabs her husband and begins waltzing to "Greensleeves"  ... out of nowhere, last week a trio of young Brazilian men sang in Portuguese to a medley of Carlos Jobim tunes  ... a young lady of about six stands transfixed at the piano and very loudly sings her heart out to "Let It Go," the popular Disney theme from the movie "Frozen."  Perfect for Christmas!   She rocked it big time and the crowd went wild.  A toddler stands next to me, eyes at key height, and ever-so-gently touches the keys as she rocks and sways to Christmas carols, with proud parents looking on ... another show-stopper!

I've never wavered from my lived commitment that the arts are crucial to a healthy society.  Decades of research in music education show that learning and playing music as a child helps to develop neuropathways in the brain that last a lifetime. Live music provides spontaneous opportunities for people to appreciate beauty and to express themselves.  It is not a luxury but a necessity. That is why I am so committed to music in the public sphere.  A big shout out and thank you to the Bellevue Collection and its wonderful staff!

Wishing you all a beautiful Solstice and holiday season with loved ones.  May peace and compassion flourish in the New Year.   Until then … 

Dance, dance  … Until you find yourself at the center … And your heart lets go… To the beauty of the mystery

Dance, dance … Until you find yourself and your soul remembers … The radiance you were born to be.  ~ Foundation for Shamanic Studies                                                                                                                                                                       

With blessings of health, peace and abundance,                                                                                                                                                                                                       ~ Sandra


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