Friday, January 27, 2006

Marching to Mozart

"People err who think my art comes easily to me ..."

Today is the 250th birthday of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Born in Salzburg, Austria in 1756, he toured Germany at the age of six, and at seven his music teacher father took him and his older sister on a three-year tour of Europe's royal courts. During his brief 35 years, he composed forty-nine symphonies, forty concertos, and a wide range of other works, including operas such as The Marriage of Figaro (1784) and The Magic Flute (1791).

I am probably one of the few people tohave ever marched to Mozart. Not by choice, mind you. Back in high school, we members of the orchestra were rehearsing for an upcoming winter concert. One of the pieces selected "Sleigh Ride," a light, fun piece that was harder to play than it seemed. Despite the level of difficulty, it was our favorite piece, and knowing this, the director used it as a carrot to get through the other pieces listed for the day's rehearsal. To be honest, I can't even recall the other pieces slated for that performance. It was the band's year for selections from "The Nutcracker Suite," not ours, and I think we did "A Yuletide Festival of Song" that year, but the rest is a blurt.

In any case, we were working through the Mozart one day -- working being the operative word, as we were not feeling the music, and were having trouble with one particular passage. Our rhythm was off and we were having trouble synching with each other. Our instructor's solution? Everyone but the cellos were made to stand up and march while playing.

Have you ever tried to march while playing a violin or viola? Go ahead -- try it. Even if you don't have an actual instrument in your hand, stand up. Pretend you are holding a violin to your left shoulder, and march while making a bowing motion with the right. See how long you can keep it up before you step out of synch.

It ain't easy.

Your feet are going one direction, the bow in another, making it extremely difficult. It must have worked, however, as we eventually did get it. It just took a few more days of marching.

I think the lesson in all this can be applied to writing. If what you're working on isn't working, approach it from another direction. Maybe you're a plotter and not a pantster, or perhaps you lose all interest in a story if every detail is plotted out. If a chapter doesn't seem to be working, back up to where it was last flowing and see if maybe your characters want to go in a completely different direction. Change the locale, or the POV, or maybe even a character's name. Listen to the music, yes. But if you get out of synch with the rhythm, try marching to Mozart.

1 comment:

Jana said...

Kind of like rubbing your tummy with one hand and patting your head with the to impossible. lol

Very creative way to turn that into how you view your writing. I discovered quite by accident that I'm not a plotter. Sat down and plotted out a book I wanted to write and by the time I finished plotting it out I no longer wanted to write it. It's no fun writing a book when you already know how it's going to end and exactly why it's going to end that way! ;-)