Children Philosophy & Music For All Ages

Let us go to the shore;

there the waves will kiss our feet.

With mysterious sadness

the stars will shine down on us.*

Aleksey Pleshcheyev

When children are still very little, everything is new and unfamiliar; the chances of a car flying in the sky are pretty much the same as those of a plane. They tend to ask the funniest questions. A little bit later, when they start attending grammar school, a true philosophers in them are being unraveled by listening to their thoughts, when trying to explain the world: ”I can only see what’s in front, not what’s behind. That means I can only know half of the truth, right?” And the ideas they have at that still ‘immature’’ age can often be more creative and noble than those that would follow later: ”Do you know what I want to do when I grow up? I want to tell people things that they don’t know. Show them stuff that they haven’t seen. It’ll be so much fun. Perhaps one day… ”

Kundera used to say that the basic life questions are those that can be expressed by children. First thing that occurred to me is my, at that time, three year old son, who, while he had troubles with his stomach, inspired by the happenings inside his body, asked me a question that still doesn’t have a definitive answer: ”Mom, who created mankind”?

When your child is in pain, looking at you with watery eyes, and you squatting beside the toilet, regardless of your opinion on this matter, only one answer can be given at that moment, which is: ”God”! You laugh silently due to the comedy of the comic situation while your kid takes your statement for granted. Two years later there will be no questioning about these simple facts as to how  mankind was created. God made all men, and when one dies, one goes to heaven. The same goes for animals.

(Inspired by the movie ”Yi Yi”)

The similar parallel regarding the ‘’big truths’’ can be make with the music. Some of the most beautiful compositions for a piano were written so the children can play it. Of course, they sound quite different when a mature pianist play them – emotions cannot ”leave” the keys at the same way when you are 7 or 37. While you are little you learn that something should play quiet or loud, and later that comes naturally from the personal feeling no one can impose. That is, finally, what makes you an artist. I remember the performance of the famous pianist who, after playing Liszt’s concerto and a few more impressive piano pieces, chose Chopin’s Valse in a-minor for an encore –  usually the first teachers’ choice for introducing their students with the ”piano poet”.

Although kids, when play the instrument, have the impression that they are revealing to others stuff they didn’t know so far (the other side of things) – it is not until they are grown enough to realize all the diverse possibilities it disposes. In those few minutes of the encore, Chopin’s piece overcame the gentle melody of the waltz ¾ rhythm and filled the hall with the countless nuances. ”It is their simplicity that makes them so difficult”, as Victor Goldberg the pianist put it, referring to Tchaikovsky’s Barcarole, though.

That wonderful and nostalgic June maybe made our lives complicated when we were little, trying to remember all those notes and dynamics, however later it gave us shelter causing the longing for seemingly simple things – feet in the waves and hair under the shine of the stars. Is there, anyway, a better sensation of  the ”other side…”?

Ivana Ljubinković

*This epigraph was printed with Barcarolle, chosen by the publisher Nikolay Bernard.

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