Learning from Art

We have already done and learned a lot in this course in merely three weeks, but there was one experience that stood out to me that helped me settle on what my goal for this class, and life in general, will be. This experience was the “Urban Garden Music” event, and I’ll begin by describing what it meant to me. Within a few minutes of the Freedom Trio starting I was entranced—The energy in the room seemingly became a living thing, and any negativity was flushed away. I couldn’t help but feel hopeful. It was like everything that was captured in the uplifting side of the Urban Garden was brought to life through sound.

What made this event really special was that Steve Prince took the Freedom Trios’ music and turned it into visual art. Witnessing either alone—Prince’s drawing process or the music would have been enchanting enough on its own but combining these two mediums of art was transportive. As I watched Prince draw, I could feel the music flowing through him and onto the page—his enthusiasm was tangible, and his process of drawing was carefree and confident. He listened and moved with the music, letting it carry him through his own art—I aspire to make art in this way. The way that Prince and the Freedom Trio presented their art reminded me of Uncle Lionel from Walking Raddy.

“For Uncle Lionel, music was as natural as breathing air. When he entertained there was no pretense or burden of expectations, no lack of confidence or hint of arrogance” (167).

The Freedom Trio’s confidence when they played music is what made it so impactful, if they had been hesitant in delivering their music then it would not have reached its audience. I don’t intend to play favorites, but Herb Smith was the perfect example of this. His confident delivery of sound made it clear to the audience how passionate he was about music. Seeing his passion, combined with the sound created in that room, made me feel more in tune with myself and my surroundings than I ever have before. I don’t believe I would have been so impacted by their music had they played with a lack of confidence. This is why I’ve decided that for any endeavor I take on in the future, I will approach it with enthusiasm and confidence. Doing so will help me grow, and also presents the possibility of inspiring others like I was inspired by Steve Prince and the Freedom Trio. I know it can be done with time and help, and I believe this class will be the perfect setting for it. It’s just as Mary Rutigliano said in one of our course’s epigraphs:

“That we be rooted in a pursuit of growing our understanding, a sense of wonder, and the agreement that we can’t learn anything without one another’s help.”

Another aspect of their music that made them stand out to me was how they composed a song for us on the spot just by reading the room. Upon watching an interview of Herb Smith, I learned that this is something he enjoys doing often. He gave the amusing example of how he walked into a preferred store of his, Lululemon (I find this amusing because when I think of this store all that comes to mind is the overpriced leggings that many girls seemed to be obsessed with—Smith conceded as well that their clothes are pricey) and composed a song based on the experience. He said, “I go in there, and you know everyone’s moving around and being very perky and helpful, and so I wrote a song called ‘Lulu Women,’ cause it was just the feeling of that store.” This idea of creating something based on how a space makes you feel is fascinating to me, and Smith said in the same interview that “You just compose things that really hit you in the moment.” If it wasn’t made clear already, their music definitely hit me in the moment, and became the driving force for this post.

There was a definitely a lot to be learned from this event, but my main takeaways were the importance of passion and confidence when doing anything in life. I was pleased to learn that Herb Smith is part of the Rochester Philharmonic orchestra because that means I may get the chance to see the Freedom Trio perform in Rochester sometime in the future.

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