Blog

Piano and Bird

The bird would let her play the ripples of scales, and then would come in on the notes that formed the melody!

Today, I was giving a piano lesson. My student was playing an etude by Bürgmuller opus 109 no. 2, called "The Pearls." In this piece, the melody was woven in between ascending and descending scales, like ripples of pearls going up and down. The melody had a repetitive rhythmical pattern based on an up beat followed by a shorter value down beat, making the rhythm sound like "taa ram."

In the morning, as I was getting up, I noticed the chirp of a bird that was new to my ears. My home being surrounded by a pine forest, I have gotten used to keep an ear for the sounds of the fauna, such as coyotes, other animals and birds. But the sound of this particular bird was strange to me; it was the first time that I had heard it. I remember looking out the window to catch a glimpse of it, but all I could get was a sound. I never saw what the bird looked like. However I guessed by the intensity of the chirp that it must have been a large bird.

During the piano lesson, I was drawing the attention of my student to the fact that the first note had a longer rhythmical value than the following one. She repeated her etude trying to highlight that. As she was playing, the solo bird came in imitating the "taa ram" rhythm. The bird would let her play the ripples of scales, and then would come in on the notes that formed the melody! I was very excited by this phenomenon and my student noticed that she had some company in her performance. The atmosphere of the lesson switched to one of awe and wonder.

When I had heard the bird earlier in the morning, it was a simple one-beat chirping. Now the bird was listening to the music of the etude and was tuning its chirping to the rhythm of the melody, bringing a whole new dimension of understanding and experiencing interspecies communication.

by Shireen Maluf, www.nayyira.com